[Foundation-l] A chapters-related question

Ilario Valdelli valdelli at gmail.com
Mon Jul 6 11:35:56 UTC 2009

On Mon, Jul 6, 2009 at 6:54 AM, Michael Snow<wikipedia at verizon.net> wrote:
> There are various possibilities here. One example is interest groups
> that aren't tied to geography, the way the chapters are. I always cite
> the idea of an Association of Blind Wikipedians, who might wish to
> organize to promote work on accessibility issues. As with the Brazilian
> situation, informal groups could also fit local conditions better
> sometimes, or serve as a proto-chapter stage of development. Maybe
> there's a benefit in having an association with some durability and
> continuation, but without going to the effort of incorporation and
> formal agreements on trademarks and such. It could also make sense to
> have an organization form for a specific project and then disband after
> it is completed, such as with Wikimania (somebody can correct me if I'm
> wrong, but I understand the Gdansk team is planning something like this
> as distinct from Wikimedia Polska).

I would to stress that the real problem for any organization of
volunteers is the *continuity*.

I think that a aggregation of volunteers not included in a framework
(like that of chapters) can be workable *only* with a well defined and
time limited aims. When these aims are reached, the group is released.
This is the example of Wikimania's groups (technically these groups
can be called "task force").

The real problem is the status of volunteers because any person cannot
assure a big and continuous presence for a lot of time.

The chapters can face the problem with an organization which are
becoming more and more reliable because these chapters are looking for
a system to assure the continuity also if this goal it's complicated
to reach. In any case they are in a good way, but I can't imagine how
another system of communities can solve this problem quickly.

Surely the chapters have a statute, a board and a light organization,
but if they change the big percentage of the board every year they
should face every time an organizational problem. In any case they
have the tools to assure the continuity.

IMHO another "framework" can only introduce real problems for
continuity, for communication and surely could put the WMF always in
the situation to "re-organize" the organization to make order in an
*entropic* system (more simple to say "work of Tantalus"). I can only
imagine that for any problem we should not only discuss the
competencies, but also the point of contact because in a volunteers
organization it could change a lot.

After this introduction I see that it could be good to "re-use" the
chapters organization for other types of project and probably to
*extend* the concept of chapters with *different levels* of status. In
few words... reuse the framework of chapters extending the types of
chapters (it could be good also for some kind of newborn chapters of
for WIP chapters like Macedonian WM).

It is not new that personally I have always asked to involve the
chapters in some other projects like Wikimania (please look the word
*involve*) to assure a trusted organization for this kind a projects.
In any case WMF always asks for help to the chapters in this project
for big involvement of people or for scholarships, I don't know why
this involvement cannot be officially done at start.

In my opinion the role of chapters cannot be limited only to collect
money and to take care for local communication. It's a poor adaptation
considering the effort that they should do to find "the continuity".


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