Hi Lodewijk,

Let me make a few points:

1. I appreciate that Affcom is working to make its outputs more timely,
especially for user group decisions.

2. I hear you say that you are under-resourced with volunteers and staff
support. I appreciate that serving on Affcom is probably one of the more
thankless jobs in the Wikimedia movement, and I understand that there is a
Wikimedia-wide shortage of volunteers, particularly volunteers who do their
jobs skillfully, who avoid conflicts of interest, and who volunteer in less
visible roles in order to keep the Wikimedia movement functioning.

3. I don't hear of a need for more staff support for Affcom from the most
recent Grantmaking quarterly review [1], so I am not sure if and when this
is going to happen. This may be a point that Asaf can address.

4. We in Cascadia Wikimedians (and I imagine other thematic organizations)
have our own timelines that we need to deal with, and needing to wait
indefinitely for Affcom and Legal to make decisions makes planning
difficult on our end. Also, we are losing organizational momentum while we
wait. Momentum is important for the creation of organizations, and possibly
for their survival. It would be a disappointment to have groups such as
ours lose volunteer interest and partnership opportunities because of
delays such as those that we are experiencing.

5. Prior to this discussion on Wikimedia-l, I sent emails to the liaisons
and/or Affcom and/or Legal that went unanswered. Regarding our most recent
subjects of discussion, we did not even hear a simple "we'll get back to
you by early next week" until taking this matter to Wikimedia-l and Geoff.
In the meantime during the past few weeks, I have received multiple
communications from Cascadians asking what is happening, and I can only
tell them that we are still waiting for Affcom and WMF Legal.

6. From my perspective as a "client" of Affcom, I continue to believe that
a 14-day timeline is reasonable for most decisions or for further
substantive questions to be asked. There may need to be process tweaks in
order to make that happen, for example Affcom members may be given fixed
deadlines by which to vote in consensus processes. Perhaps this is a
discussion that Affcom should have with Asaf once it has onboarded new
members with fresh energy and ideas, and perhaps Affcom could ask Anna
Stillwell for ideas as well. There are trade-offs to be made between the
comprehensiveness of internal discussions and timely outcomes for those
discussions, and from recent experience I would say that more weight should
be given to the value of timely outcomes, in addition to more transparency
and frequent communication.

7. I appreciate that you are giving attention to this matter and that Affcom
is making efforts to improve the situation that will achieve benefits over
the next few months. I hope that Affcom will provide updates to the
community and affiliates.

Thank you,


[1] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/WMF

On Sat, Oct 11, 2014 at 2:55 AM, Lodewijk <lodew...@effeietsanders.org>

> Hi Pine,
> I think nobody wants to say that questions should take longer to get
> answered - we all would like your inquiries to be answered sooner rather
> than later. To accomplish this, the Committee has made changes in its
> workflow several times in the past year, to especially make user group
> applications less time consuming. Previously, decisions on User Groups had
> to be taken by a formal committee vote, after a period of consensus
> building. Recently this process has been delegated mostly to the liaisons,
> who have some liberty to decide on behalf of the Committee.
> However, I also feel a need to mention that it is unreasonable to compare
> two such very different committees and expect similar response times
> because of it. While I am not familiar with how discussions in the
> IEG-committee go, I can say that the AffCom often has ''in camera''
> discussions, which are not visible to the outside world. We're working hard
> to come to a good *Committee decision* rather than a simple up/down vote of
> individuals. We need to combine our experiences and skills rather than make
> a choice all for ourselves. Unfortunately we don't have frequent meetings,
> so these discussions mostly drag on via email - something to improve.
> Especially when a new type of application (or an application with a new
> component) comes in, that requires some discussion among the Committee
> members - this unfortunately takes time.
> This combined with the fact that there is little staff support (something
> being worked on to improve as well) and that the number of members has been
> low for some time (selections currently ongoing), I can confidently say
> that the situation can be expected to improve over the coming months even
> further. Will that solve all problems, and get all response times as we
> would like to see them? Probably not. But improvement would already be a
> big win, I'd say.
> A last, general word of advice: if you don't get a reply to your question a
> week after your email, feel free to poke again. Please do it genty, but
> feel free. No need to get agressive, angry or insulted because it takes
> long. It might well be that your liaison is busy at work, or even that it
> ended up in their spam filter. A friendly reminder goes a long way.
> Best regards,
> Lodewijk
> (outgoing AffCom member, not speaking on behalf of anyone else)
> 2014-10-11 10:23 GMT+02:00 Pine W <wiki.p...@gmail.com>:
> > Thank you for that information, Asaf, Kirill, and James.
> >
> > James: my point still stands that somehow at IEGCom we are able to
> respond
> > substantively to almost 100% if inquiries within 7 days. It seems to me
> > that if we can do this at IEGCom, then asking Legal and Affcom to commit
> to
> > substantively responding to all inquiries within 14 days is reasonable.
> > There may be an exceptional case from time to time, but explanations for
> > delays and regular updates should still be forthcoming. Users generally
> > shouldn't need to go to Geoff or Wikimedia-l to get progress, nor should
> > there be multiple weeks of silence from Affcom and/or Legal, especially
> > when updates have been requested during that time.
> >
> > I would like to ask that the communication and timeliness issues
> discussed
> > in this thread be addressed thoroughly, and that the specific actions
> taken
> > be made transparent.
> >
> > Thank you,
> >
> > Pine
> >
> >
> >
> > On Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 4:04 PM, Asaf Bartov <abar...@wikimedia.org>
> > wrote:
> >
> >> That's correct. And for completeness, I am the primary staff liaison to
> >> AffCom, with Stephen LaPorte providing support on legal matters.
> >>
> >>    A.
> >> On Oct 10, 2014 3:40 PM, "Kirill Lokshin" <kirill.loks...@gmail.com>
> >> wrote:
> >>
> >> > On Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 6:24 PM, Pine W <wiki.p...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >> >
> >> >> Hi Kirill, my understanding is that Affcom functions under the Legal
> >> >> department, much like the Individual Engagement Grants Committee
> >> functions
> >> >> under the Grantmaking department. Is that so, and if not, which
> >> department
> >> >> is responsible for Affcom?
> >> >>
> >> >
> >> > Hi Pine,
> >> >
> >> > That's not the case.  AffCom reports directly to the Board of Trustees
> >> [1]
> >> > rather than to any staff department.
> >> >
> >> > Kirill
> >> >
> >> > [1]
> >> >
> >>
> https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Resolution:Affiliations_Committee_Charter
> >> >
> >> >
> >> > _______________________________________________
> >> > Affiliations Committee mailing list
> >> > aff...@lists.wikimedia.org
> >> > https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/affcom
> >> >
> >> >
> >> _______________________________________________
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> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Affiliations Committee mailing list
> > aff...@lists.wikimedia.org
> > https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/affcom
> >
> >
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