[Wikimediaau-l] Chapters purpose and relationship (was: Re: Melbourne meetup report)

Brianna Laugher brianna.laugher at gmail.com
Fri Oct 12 13:26:40 UTC 2007

On 12/10/2007, Gnangarra <gnangarra at gmail.com> wrote:
> Its a good idea to have individual chapters
> The way I thought we are working is to create WMA first, then WMA helps the
> states create chapters during 2008, once created the states would have a
> representative on the WMA committee, realising that not every state is going
> to have the critical mass to support a local chapter initially anyway.

I was going to say that I think WMF expect max one chapter per nation
state, then I remembered about the recent American Pennsylvania
chapter talk. So is it one chapter per legal jurisdiction?

I am not sure that I think multiple legal entity chapters within
Australia would be a great idea. What with the small population. I
would prefer formal state structures within a single legal entity
being Wikimedia Australia, I think. The European chapters for example
have one per nation despite larger populations than us. I am not too
convinced that the distance necessitates separate legal entities.

On a related note,
For those who missed it, Florence recently reported on foundation-l
about the recent Board meeting. Her email is here:


Sue Gardner began the
discussion by presenting a possible strategy to clarify the relationship
between WMF and Wikimedia Chapters. The strategy outlines 4 types of
relationships, essentially ranging from business development with
revenue sharing over traditional non-profit activities to informal
Far ranging discussion resulted, hmmm, with obvious agreement resulting.
(...) We also agreed on the
need for a systematic process of gathering feedback from the chapters on
their expectations & perceived purpose should precede a strategy draft
from WMF about the relationship with chapters.

So, we are not a chapter, and they won't be getting feedback from us
:) but it is worth thinking about anyway.

To me the purpose of a chapter, as in creating and maintaing a local
legal entity, is mainly two-fold, or maybe they are in fact the same
1) To gain the benefits from official/formal legal status within
Australia. This includes potentially access to grants and funding,
charity status to make donations (to us?) in AU$ tax deductible,
potential partnerships with Australian groups such as universities.
Also, greater respect and visibility.
2) To encourage and enable face to face meetings of Wikimedians on a
greater scale than local meetups. Although this is sometimes derided
as merely "throwing parties" I think it is much more powerful than
that. Connections made or cemented face to face are much stronger than
those only through email or wiki. That goes for connections within the
group of  Wikimedians and also between non-Wikimedians and "friends
and allies" such as free software people, free content people,
education people. Such meetings can boost everyone's enthusiasm and
motivation and also spread disparate knowledge quickly and effectively
over short, sharp bursts.

Some other ideas...
3) (probably should be 0) To carry out the WMF's vision and mission
within Australian territory and within an Australian context. This
could mean Wikibooks(Wikiversity) adapted to Australian (ahem state)
curricula. It could mean Wikisource special topics on historical
Australian documents. It could also mean specialised DVDs or books
being produced and distributed, collecting (eg) Wikipedia articles on
Australian topics. [I personally would be delighted to see a disc of
Spoken Wikipedia as recorded by Australians... there are a few Aussies
who have done them and they are delightful to listen to.] It could
also mean talking to educators or students about a) how to use
Wikimedia resources effectively and b) the benefits of using wikis and
c) The benefits of using free licenses (creating free content).

4) To lobby the Australian government for reduced application of
copyright on Australian government-created works. To lobby Australian
public archives and collections for greater access to works in their
collections especially public domain works and digital access.

This point is my hobby-horse and also the most different from how WMF
acts in the US today so likely the most controversial.
However... through Wikimedia I have become aware of how we, the Aus
public, are unnecessarily dudded and deprived of works that are owned
by us (or by no one), collected for us, created by us, and yet somehow
are not recognised as belong to us.

Why did I become aware of this? Because the US has an amazing attitude:
that greatly benefits Americans... that greatly benefits Wikimedia...
that greatly benefits the whole world.

The US appears to be a world leader in this regard. Europe's space
agency the ESA is stupid and releases their images under a
non-commercial license. I will sincerely celebrate the day that
Wikimedian lobbying helps to overturn this.

Those of us who have used state libraries' or museums' online
collections will be aware that they frequently claim to have
reproduction or other rights on public domain material. This is wrong
and misleading... instead of acting as caretakers on our behalf they
frequently act as  scolding nannies wrapping us on the knuckles for
daring to touch. So a related effort would be lobbying for greater
funding for digitisation of all kinds of archives.

5) To lobby and promote the use of free licenses in academia.
The amount of information locked away in subscription-only journals is
nothing short of scandalous...education, via access to information, is
nothing short of revolutionary. What is the point of academia if not
to ultimately increase the public good. If so, it should be available
to the public.

I am not totally sold on the use of free licenses in, say, personal
art and photography. Things created by private citizens. But in the
case of academia, science, education, government, and *works that are
already free* due to copyright expiration, it is nothing short of
outrageous to make things expensive and difficult to access.

Again this point is more removed from what WMF does in the US, but I
think it has pretty clear links to the WMF vision.

So that's my thoughts about it.


They've just been waiting in a mountain for the right moment:

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