[Wikimedia-l] Resignation announcement, and a parting remark to everyone

Deryck Chan deryckchan at wikimedia.hk
Sun Apr 28 22:52:26 UTC 2013

Dear trusty Wikimedians,

The FDC decisions are out on Sunday. Despite my desperate attempts to
assist WMHK's board to keep up with deadlines and comply with seemingly
endless requests from WMF grantmaking and FDC support staff, we received an
overwhelmingly negative assessment which resulted in a complete rejection
of our FDC proposal.

At this point, I believe it's an appropriate time for me to announce my
resignation and retirement from all my official Wikimedia roles - as
Administrative Assistant and WCA Council Member of WMHK. I will carry out
my remaining duties as a member of Wikimania 2013 local team.

My experience with the FDC process, and the outcome of it, has convinced me
that my continued involvement will simply be a waste of my own time, and of
little benefit to WMHK and the Wikimedia movement as a whole.

My experience with the FDC process has confirmed my ultimate scepticism
about the WMF's direction of development. WMF has become so conservative
with its strategies and so led into "mainstream" charity bureaucracy that
it is no longer tending to the needs of the wider Wikimedia movement.

My experience with the FDC process has shown me that WMF is expecting fully
professional deliverables which require full-time professional staff to
deliver, from organisations run by volunteers who are running Wikimedia
chapters not because they're charity experts, but because they love

My experience with the FDC process has demonstrated to me that WMF is
totally willing to perpetuate the hen-and-egg problem of the lack of staff
manpower and watch promising initiatives dwindle into oblivion.

WMHK isn't even a new chapter. We've been incorporated and recognised by
WMF since 2007. Our hen-and-egg problem isn't new either. We've been vocal
about the fact that our volunteer force is exhausted, and can't do any
better without funding for paid staff and an office since 2010. Our request
for office funding was rejected. The year after, our request to become a
payment-processing chapter was rejected. The year after, we've got
Wikimania (perhaps because WMF fortunately doesn't have too much to do with
the bidding process), which gave us hope that we might finally be helped to
professionalise. But it came to nothing - this very week our FDC request
was rejected.

And the reason? Every time the response from WMF was, effectively, we
aren't good enough therefore we won't get help to do any better. We don't
have professional staff to help us comply with the endless and
ever-changing professional reporting criteria, therefore we can't be
trusted to hire the staff to do precisely that.

My dear friends and trusty Wikimedians, do you now understand the irony and
the frustration?

Wikimedia didn't start off as a traditional charity. It is precisely
because of how revolutionary our mission and culture are, that we as a
movement have reached where we are today. A few movement entities,
particularly the WMF, managed to expand and take on the skin of a much more
traditional charity. But most of us are still youthful Wikimedia
enthusiasts who are well-versed with Wikimedia culture, but not with
charity governance. Imposing a professional standard upon a movement entity
as a prerequisite of giving it help to professionalise, is like judging
toddlers by their full marathon times.

Is this what we want Wikimedia to become? To turn from a revolutionary idea
to a charity so conservative that it would rather perpetuate a
chicken-and-egg problem than support long-awaited growth? I threw in days
and days of effort in the last few years, often at the peril of my degree
studies, with the wishful thinking that one day the help will come to let
WMHK and all the other small but well-established chapters professionalise.

I was wrong.

With the FDC process hammering the final nail into my scepticism about
where WMF and the movement is heading, I figured that with a degree in
environmental engineering from Cambridge my life will be much better spent
helping other worthy causes than wasting days on Wikimedia administration
work only to have them go unappreciated time and time again.

But I feel that it is necessary for me to leave a parting message to my
fellow Wikimedians, a stern warning about where I see our movement heading.
I feel that we're losing our character and losing our appreciation for
volunteers, in particular the limitations of volunteer effort.

I leave you all with a final thought from Dan Pallotta: charitable efforts
will never grow if we continue to be so adverse about "overheads" and

With Wiki-Love,

PS. I wish there was an appropriate private mailing list for me to send
this to. Unfortunately, most of the important WMF stakeholders aren't
subscribed to internal-l, and most veteran chapters folks know what I want
to say already. I just hope that trolls wouldn't blow this out of
proportion. Or perhaps I do want this to be blown out of proportion so that
my voice will actually be heard. Thanks for reading.

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