[Foundation-l] Board resolutions (chapters)

Andrew Whitworth wknight8111 at gmail.com
Thu Jan 22 14:05:37 UTC 2009

On Thu, Jan 22, 2009 at 7:30 AM, Delphine Ménard <notafishz at gmail.com> wrote:
> I completely disagree with your analysis here.
> No, if a very tiny country had enough wikimedians to create critical
> mass to create two chapters, _and if those two groups found that they
> absolutely could not work together_ (even if it's easier), then no,
> the Wikimedia Foundation should never ever agree to recognize both
> chapters. Chapters _must_ make sense. Actually, this is true of tiny
> or big countries.
> A NYC chapter makes sense, because today, there is no other "chapter"
> that will not go and act in New York without consulting with the
> chapter. And the WMF operates on a different level. Two, three, twenty
> groups (however active) that potentially have the exact same
> interlocutors should not be allowed to be called "Wikimedia" and be
> given the name of chapter.

Disagreement is fine! We're obviously dealing with a lot of
hypotheticals here. I guess maybe I should have stipulated that the
two chapters in the tiny country be mutually-exclusive and
non-overlapping. We don't have two chapters operating in New York City
simultaneously, but we could definitely have two regional chapters
operating in the country simultaneously.

What we want is for Wikimedians to be able to join _A_ chapter if they
are interested, but we don't want them to have to choose between
multiple options. There either is a chapter in your area that you can
join, or your area is free for the creation of a new chapter. If we
have critical mass to support two chapters in a given country (no
matter how tiny), and if they don't overlap and if they don't
interfere with each other, I think they should be allowed to organize
themselves in that way.

Now, realistically I think this whole issue is a non-starter. I don't
suspect we are going to see places that are both sufficiently "tiny"
_and_ have the critical mass needed to support two chapters. I think
you and I have both seen, Delphine, that creating a new chapter takes
a lot of work and there are precious few people willing and able to
make it happen. Chapters don't just spring to life out of thin air,
and they don't multiply like rabbits. I think it may be quite a long
time until we see a second US chapter, much less before we get two
applications from Luxembourg. While I don't think we should draw a
line and say all countries smaller then a certain size can't qualify
for subnational chapters, I also don't forsee that countries below a
certain size threshold are going to be interested in it anyway.

> This is where we might want to have national chapters precluding
> sub-national chapters "that make sense". Belgium in that regard is an
> interesting example. If you let a Wikimedia Belgie-only-dutch-speaking
> chapter happen, or a Wikimedia Belgique-only-French-speaking chapter
> happen (as was proposed a looong time ago), you are stuck with the
> fact that Wikimedia Belgium is in one language and not in the other.
> However, setting aside all cultural and linguistic aspects of the
> country, which are real, and even legal aspects which might be
> different depending the "region", the "national institutions" are
> _national_. As such, they should have one interlocutor and one only.
> This said, in Belgium, it might make perfect sense to have two
> sections of the same chapter, one that will focus on one language
> and/or regional institutions, the other on the other.

Right, every country is going to pose different situations, and
Belgium might not make sense to separate into two chapters if there
aren't clear geographic boundaries between the two. Creating new
chapters isn't an excuse to avoid working and collaborating with
people who are different from yourself, but it should instead be a
vehicle for overcoming barriers and getting people involved. If
language barriers are accompanied by clear geographic barriers, that
is a good use case for separate chapters.

> And in my opinion, it also would be ok if one group of people focused
> on one language was to start the chapter, with little involvement from
> the other language(s), as long as the bylaws would reflect this
> diversity and allow for other to join.

This is similar to what had been happening with the Canadian group,
where most of their organizing was being done in english but they were
trying to get more french-speakers involved as well. Our projects are
multilingual, and I think in most cases we should expect our chapters
to support that as well. However, if language is one of several
barriers that prevent Wikimedians from getting involved, then separate
chapters should be created to help get more people to participate.

--Andrew Whitworth

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