Dear members of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, dear Wikimedians,

I would like to share a few thoughts and questions with you. Thoughts
and questions that I would love to see being addressed when talking
about these movement issues. I have the feeling that this substantial
decision is coming somewhat out of the blue, without a prior
discussion among the broader movement – at least none that I am aware
of. It would be helpful if you can provide some insights into the
bigger picture or broader evaluation these decisions are based upon.

== User Groups ==
Not only two years ago, two new movement affiliate models were
introduced, resulting from an extensive, transparent and collaborative
process that involved all movement stakeholders. The current decision
kind of neglects this process, the people involved, and its outcome.

At first sight, I can understand your approach of giving UGs time to
develop governance as well as structures and experiment with their
capacities. But since there is hardly any structured support for these
young and aspiring volunteer groups to grow, to develop and to become
trusted partners, I fear that time alone won’t do the trick.

Defining affiliates’ goals and providing guidance for development
paths are inevitable tasks for a healthy movement, but it remains
completely unclear who has (or should have) a mandate for this
support. Without securing this support and empowerment, our movement
might miss the unique chance to uncover the treasures of Free
Knowledge around the world.

The most pressing question here remains: In an ideal world, how would
an organization model for Wikimedia look like? And does the
restriction of choices for affiliations' models help us to reach this
goal? I’ve got the impression that this step is more a patch for the
symptoms, while we as a movement should strive for a fix for a – yet
unspecified – “problem”.

== FDC funding ==
Similar questions arise regarding the FDC freeze. Why now? Wouldn’t it
make sense to wait for the FDC Advisory Group, who is charged with
reviewing and evaluating the funds dissemination process as a whole?
Do we have to understand this decision as a declaration of bankruptcy
of the FDC process already? Which data is this freeze based upon?

For a young movement like ours, with a cause that is so new and
unique, how can we even dare not to invest into exploring new
territory, into finding the right things to do? Why do we not embrace
all the exciting projects that the affiliate volunteers and staff are
offering to our movement, and which fulfill our common mission?
Together, we have to figure out the best balance between
effectiveness-driven and money-driven decisions. We need to define
what is meant by “healthy growth”, taking different circumstances and
stages of development into account. The Wikimedia movement is in the
luxury position that our donors generously support our endeavors, they
trust us with our efforts to advance our mission, and I wonder if it
is reasonable if we artificially limit the support that is available
to our global movement.

Our whole grantmaking process is unique, we are pioneers within the
non-profit world. And the same goes for the evaluation of our work. Of
course, we are all – big and small – facing growing pains and need to
scrutinize our processes over and over again. Does retracting from
this experiment at such an early stage, without proper assessment and
evaluation, reflect our movement’s culture of being bold and
innovative?

What also puzzles me is the fact that on the one hand your decision
encourages affiliates to seek funding from outside sources, but on the
other hand speaks against building structures. One of the reasons for
centralizing the fundraising in 2012 was the argument that chapters
should focus on their work and leave the collection of funds to the
WMF. Now that they have lost their capability and skills for raising
funds, you not only ask affiliates and volunteer groups to start
building up these capacities again, you also put them in jeopardy of
becoming dependent from corporations, governments and other sponsors
that we as a movement hardly have any control over. Would it not be a
good idea to at least support the process and make WMF funds available
to build up structures for a sustainable external fundraising, full of
integrity?

== Outlook ==
My hope is that these decisions can serve as an initial spark to bring
all involved parties together and frankly (I mean it!) discuss
questions relevant for the future of our movement and the
organizational structures that benefit our mission in the most
effective way. I see several occasions in the not too distant future,
for example:

In the FAQ, you are referring to the strategy process as the place to
discuss and solve all these issues. It would be really helpful to know
more about this process and the involvement of the different movement
stakeholders.

Some of the topics covered in the decisions and FAQs are already on
the agenda for the Wikimedia Conference[1], but it is still early
enough to adjust the agenda accordingly. The program team is surely
happy to help with figuring out how to best address these topics at
the conference.

Best regards,

Nicole Ebber

[1] 
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Conference_2014/Programme#Theme_1:_Organisation.2C_structures_and_grants

On 11 February 2014 19:46, Dariusz Jemielniak <dar...@alk.edu.pl> wrote:
> that is correct (about the FDC involvement; we have not participated in
> consulting or idea exchange in any systematic way).
>
> dj "pundit"
>
>
> On Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 7:37 PM, Gregory Varnum 
> <gregory.var...@gmail.com>wrote:
>
>> While AffCom will likely be making an official statement later, I am having
>> a hard time not chiming in and I do think it is worth pointing out that
>> AffCom was not consulted in a manner I think most of us would have imagined
>> occurring. I have noticed it mentioned a few times that our feedback was
>> taken into consideration, but that may give the wrong idea of what
>> happened.
>>
>> While it is true we provided feedback before the decision was made, I would
>> not consider it consulting with us or even communicating with AffCom in a
>> way that allowed us to provide the level of feedback I think the community
>> has come to expect. Frankly we got a lot of our information second-hand,
>> and am still not sure personally we know the full story. My personal
>> expectation would have involved a lot more communication before the
>> decision was made, and most importantly, some two-way dialogue. At the very
>> least I think the chairs of FDC and AffCom should have been looped into
>> parts of the conversation during the meeting.
>>
>> I think it is fair to say that AffCom got notice before the broader
>> community, and we had opportunities to express our concerns and objections
>> - however I would not characterize it as a conversation or true feedback
>> gathering. I am not personally convinced it was taken into much
>> consideration as the people proposing this bad idea were physically there
>> to speak to their idea, but no one opposed to it was invited. My
>> understanding is the same was true for FDC - but I obviously cannot speak
>> to that.
>>
>> Aside from my disappointment in the decision, I am perhaps even more
>> disappointed with the process. Without going into lengthy details, I was
>> not impressed with how AffCom was consulted on this (or not consulted
>> depending on your take) and frankly the board's attitude I think calls into
>> question their true interest in utilizing FDC and AffCom as actual advisors
>> to the board. In a world and movement so woven into technology, the notion
>> that we could not bring some "advisors" in for parts of these meetings just
>> doesn't make sense to me. I recognize that has not generally been done, but
>> that seems like something to change and not a pattern to stay within.
>>
>> I also want to be clear that I have a lot of empathy for the board, these
>> are difficult roles, and I think the people in them are genuinely trying
>> their best. I like them all on a personal level, and am confident these
>> disagrees won't harm that. I also know that while the board stands united,
>> these decisions are not privately made without debate. However, they are
>> our board and I think sharing concerns like this is a healthy part of the
>> process. Some of the tone people have taken on this thread is less helpful,
>> and I hope we can get it back on a more civil track.
>>
>> -greg
>>
>> PS. I send this a volunteer and not wearing any official AffCom or WM
>> anything hat (although that hat obviously formed my opinion).
>>
>>
>> On Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 12:59 PM, Cynthia Ashley-Nelson <
>> cindam...@gmail.com
>> > wrote:
>>
>> > Consensus indicates that the implementation of this decision will greatly
>> > hinder the work of affiliates.It may help to disclose the initial problem
>> > statement presented to the Board, which resulted in the establishment of
>> > these new guidelines.What resolution is the Board seeking to achieve? In
>> > the Board discussion that took place, were there other options presented?
>> > If so, can the Board disclose what these were and why they were
>> > disregarded? How will the implementation of this decision bring about
>> > progress and benefit the movement on a global basis?
>> >
>> > Best regards,
>> >
>> > Cynthia Ashley-Nelson
>> >
>> >
>> > On Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 5:36 AM, Jan-Bart de Vreede <
>> > jdevre...@wikimedia.org
>> > > wrote:
>> >
>> > > 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
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > >
>> > > > _______________________________________________
>> > > > Wikimedia-l mailing list
>> > > > Wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org
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>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > --
>> >
>> > Best regards,
>> >
>> > Cynthia Ashley-Nelson
>> > "Yes. *Her again.*"
>> > _______________________________________________
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>
>
> --
>
> __________________________
> dr hab. Dariusz Jemielniak
> profesor zarządzania
> kierownik katedry Zarządzania Międzynarodowego
> i centrum badawczego CROW
> Akademia Leona Koźmińskiego
> http://www.crow.alk.edu.pl
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-- 
Nicole Ebber
Leiterin Internationales
Head of International Affairs

Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. | Tempelhofer Ufer 23-24 | 10963 Berlin
Tel. +49 30 219158 26-0

http://wikimedia.de

Wikimedia Deutschland - Gesellschaft zur Förderung Freien Wissens e.V.
Eingetragen im Vereinsregister des Amtsgerichts Berlin-Charlottenburg
unter der Nummer 23855 B. Als gemeinnützig anerkannt durch das
Finanzamt für Körperschaften I Berlin, Steuernummer 27/681/51985.

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