On Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 11:43 PM, Frédéric Schütz <sch...@mathgen.ch> wrote:

> On 11/02/14 06:33, phoebe ayers wrote:
> > I want to draw your attention to two Wikimedia Board of Trustees
> decisions
> > that were recently published, regarding funds allocated to the FDC/Annual
> > plan grant process and Board approval of chapter/thematic organization
> > status. In a nutshell, the Board decided to allocate approximately the
> same
> > amount of funding to the FDC for the next two years.
> Some chapters have asked to consider the possibility for multi-year
> funding, in order to make planning easier. The WMF indicated that it was
> something difficult to do since the funding of the whole movement is
> planned on an annual basis. Does it mean that this argument is now moot ?

That's a good point, and a good question. Personally I think we are trying
to find a balance between stability and not wildly changing budget
allocations, and the fact that yes, we receive revenues and pass a budget
on an annual basis.

I hope other trustees can weigh in on this point too though.

> > The Board also decided
> > that new organizations should first form as a user group and have two
> years
> > of programmatic experience before being approved as a legally
> incorporated
> > entity (either a chapter or thematic organization).
> My first reaction to this: why is the WMF board pretending to be more
> and more a board overseeing the whole community ? I can understand
> concerns "about new groups legally incorporating before they need to or
> are ready to", but this remains up to the groups to decide -- and one
> thing about which there is no doubt is that they will know better than
> the WMF board if they need to be incorporated and when (if only because
> they know they local legal landscape much better than the WMF does).

We aren't trying to oversee the whole community. We do have a
responsibility for this area though. That's not a change, I think; the
Board has always approved chapters.

> It is indeed up to the WMF to decide the conditions a group must have
> achieved before being recognized as a chapter or thematic organization.
> However, this is an assessment at a given point in time. How the group
> actually got there should have no influence on the result.

Should it not? I think we disagree on that point. We want the group to do
stuff, to have a great track record, to show some evidence that they will
stay active if we call them a Wikimedia chapter -- not just to prove that
they have a good lawyer in the group who can draw up bylaws. (That's the
crux of the matter, not the "user group" label, as far as I'm concerned).

> I see that the WMF ED suggested the change, and that it was not endorsed
> by the Affcom (which is interesting in itself). But why doesn't the
> community have a chance to comment on how it should organize itself ?
> So if you had asked the Swiss chapter, for example, we would have
> mentioned that a "user group" would be close to useless in our country.
> That would basically be a group of people having meetings in a
> restaurant once in a while, but it just does not exist as a group: it
> can not get access to grants (it can not even have a bank account, so
> any money received would be received by a single member in his own name
> -- making the user group useless), can not be granted trademark usage.
> This is why creating an association in Switzerland is an extremely light
> process: take 2 people, get them to write one page of bylaws and voilà,
> the association is incorporated and it can open a bank account. So long
> for "becoming a chapter or thematic organization involves much more
> corporate overhead".

Sure. See the last faq:

"What if a user group doesn't make sense for us? We want to do a specific
project, and really feel we need chapter or thematic organization status
for our situation.

Please tell us what part of user group status is problematic, and for what
reasons. We do not want to hinder planned or ambitious projects; we also do
not know of any current cases where this would be a problem."

Really, if you or anyone is forming a group, has some projects planned, and
thinks the user group framework absolutely won't work -- well, let us know.
We are not unreasonable heartless people! But we are trying to get us all
on a different footing in how we view incorporation of groups.

It is late and I am going to bed now, but I expect many more interesting
questions to come tomorrow, and hopefully other trustees will be able to
weigh in too.



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