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

Deryck Chan deryckchan at wikimedia.hk
Wed May 1 17:04:49 UTC 2013

Hello everyone again.

Thank you those of you who replied to me either on this thread or
privately. I've already replied to them off-list where appropriate.

I apologise that my intentionally harsh words in the original mail and
subsequent public replies may have been construed as bad-faith personal
attacks against certain members of WMF staff and the FDC. In particular, I
recognise that my anecdotal use of the words "foul play" may have hurt
people's feelings; I apologise and retract this remark. I have already
filed a formal complaint in my personal capacity to the FDC ombudsmen. I'm
determined to step away from Wikimedia administration matters, so I won't
comment any more on this matter.

Thanks for reading and I'm glad to see some positive suggestions coming out
of this thread. I urge the WMF and FDC to implement the proposed supportive
measures for local volunteers.


On 28 April 2013 23:52, Deryck Chan <deryckchan at wikimedia.hk> wrote:

> 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
> Wikimedia.
> 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
> staffing.
> http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pallotta_the_way_we_think_about_charity_is_dead_wrong.html
> With Wiki-Love,
> Deryck
> 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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