I'm very sorry about these decisions. Not only because I disagree with them
on the content (although there are one or two aspects I can live with) and
because I think this is very bad for the volunteers, but also because the
board returned to a mode where they make decisions without involving the
stakeholders properly. The Affiliations Committee will probably come with a
more elaborate (and perhaps nuanced) reply as a committee later, but after
this email from Jan-Bart, I feel the need to emphasize that the Affiliation
Committee was not consulted by the board on this topic - despite the
suggestions being made now. Affcom was consulted on a different (but
related) proposal by a staff member, with very different arguments from
those that the board used in their discussion. In my feeling the board is
painting an unjust and unfair picture of the consultation that took place.

I'm strongly disappointed in /all/ board members for not consulting with
the stakeholders (Affcom, FDC, the existing affiliated, the candidate
affiliates and of course the community at large) on these strategy changing
decisions. From the votes it is clear that these decisions were of course
not unanimous, but the sole fact that a decision was taken at all without
proper consultation (in favor or not) strikes me as almost offensive
towards the volunteers involved. I feel this as a slap in the face and the
board becomes an unreliable body making unpredictable course changes
without allowing stakeholders to influence those.

I hope that the board will return on this decision, and take it again after
a proper consultation. But even more so, I hope that this situation will
not repeat itself. I have brought this up before on the topic of bylaw
changes, but similar arguments are of course valid here.

Lodewijk Gelauff
(While a member of the Affiliations Committee - I write this email entirely
in a personal capacity)

2014-02-11 14:36 GMT+01:00 Jan-Bart de Vreede <jdevre...@wikimedia.org>:

> Dear Frederic,
> On 11 Feb 2014, at 10:44, Frédéric Schütz <sch...@mathgen.ch> wrote:
> > On 11/02/14 09:03, phoebe ayers wrote:
> >
> > Hi Phoebe,
> >
> > thanks for your answer !
> >
> >>> 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).
> >
> > What you say makes a lot of sense, but it is disconnected from the
> > actual decision. Your decision is not "you should have a good track
> > record", it is "you should have a good track record AND NOT have bylaws".
> >
> > What I understand the board is saying is: "if you have a fantastic track
> > record over the past two years, and you have successfully incorporated
> > two years ago, and have maybe even managed somehow to attract external
> > funding to conduct your projects, then sorry, this is exactly the kind
> > of organization we do *not* want as a Wikimedia chapter or thematic
> > organization".
> >
> > How can this possibly be something positive for the movement ?
> I think you misunderstand us, can you tell me where you got this
> impression, because it is the wrong one. We are saying that a track record
> is important, and much more important that the previous focus on having
> bylaws. This because we know that a proven track record is a very good
> indicator of the chances of succes of a chapter or thematic organisation.
> >
> >>> 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 ?
> >
> > I'd love to hear your comment about this point. Agreeing with Itzik, I
> > don't really understand why we are having this discussion after the
> > discussion has already been made (and, indeed, will not change whatever
> > amount of discussion we have) and not before.
> Its not like the community does not have a chance to comment on how it
> should organise itself. There are several ways to organise yourself
> (including the user group entity which can benefit greatly from the
> recently improved trademark policy). The board has indicated that there is
> now an additional requirement for becoming a chapter/thematic organisation,
> which is just ONE way of organising yourself. The chapter/thematic choice
> brings with it a lot of responsibility and we feel that our measure will
> help us fulfil our responsibility of being able to approve both chapters
> and thematic organisations while adhering to our governance responsibility.
> For the record: The board took the feedback from both the AffCom and FDC
> into account and then made its decision, based on factors that were really
> the responsibility of the board. I respect the volunteers within both
> committees tremendously, but it in the end it really was a decision which
> was taken while taking into account the entire picture (pieces of which
> were provided by the Affcom and FDC).
> <SNIP>
> >>
> >> 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.
> >
> > The burden of the proof should be on the WMF board to explain why this
> > proposal makes sense, and what positive outcome it brings to the
> > community -- not on motivated community members who have to beg to get
> > exceptions.
> Hmmm.... I would say that
> 1) We made a decision in which we took several factors into account
> 2) We recognise that there might be situations which we might not have
> taken into account and we invite you to let us know it you think this is
> the case.
> would be better than the alternative of not being open to feedback about
> the decision's impact in specific cases.
> >
> > I don't think I have seen much concrete rationale for this decision
> > beyond vague comments and concerns which I can only call patronizing
> > ("hey, users, we know how you should spend your time and organize
> > yourself; no, no, don't think about creating a formal structure, it is
> > bad for your health. And bad for the movement; will anyone think of the
> > movement ?")
> I really think that the FAQ gives a pretty good indication. What concerns
> me (and other board members) is the fact that there is a natural tendency
> to incorporate a group of volunteers into a chapter or thematic
> organisation even if there is no real track record or a good reason to want
> to do so (especially since the revised trademark policy gives user groups
> much more freedom to make use of the trademarks). Chapters and Thematic
> organisations are an essential part of the movement and we would like each
> and every one to succeed in furthering the goals of the movement as a
> whole. Asking these groups to be a user group for the first two years while
> doing programmatic work really gives a good indication of the ability of
> the "future chapter/thematic organisation" to succeed.
> We also reference the strategic planning which is due to start this
> summer. One of the things we really have to solve is the
> roles/responsibilities/privileges of each player in the movement. The basic
> answer to the questions:
> 1) What are our long term goals
> 2) Who is best positioned to achieve these goals
> should lead to a "who does what" picture of the movement (and maybe just
> as important "who will stop doing what"), and it is on the basis of this
> picture and the underlying goals that we should create and fund different
> players in the movement. I would argue that at this time the picture is not
> as clear as it should be before committing the resources we currently
> commit to it.
> (just as a small note: when I talk about movement I mean the range from
> the individual volunteer to the Wikimedia Foundation itself)
> >
> > As a side note, this is the only point that I will keep from Rupert's
> > email: this decision completely ignores international cultural
> > differences in terms of funding, fundraising and organization in
> > general. Indeed, in a quote above, you talk about "good lawyer in the
> > group who can draw up bylaws"; this reinforces the incorrect premise
> > your decision is based on: that incorporation is a complicated and
> > bureaucratic process that should be avoided. And this is something that
> > can not be decided globally.
> This is true. But to be clear, its not the possible "bureaucratic" aspect
> which concerns us greatly (as I mentioned above).
> >
> > Frédéric
> Regards
> Jan-Bart de Vreede
> Chair Board of Trustees
> Wikimedia Foundation
> >
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