I think the issue is with the word "liability". That has a legal meaning to
me that perhaps it wouldn't to others.

It's a bit of a misunderstanding that user groups "are not required to
become legal entities". We would be a legal entity whether or not we
registered; we'd simply be an unincorporated association if we didn't
register. That is indeed much simpler, but it comes with its own set of
risks. I don't want to get into a lengthy discussion of the legal issues
here, but let's just say that it's not a zero-cost and zero-risk approach.

That's a good point that there's a disjuncture between the kind of
activities that a group does and the affiliations model. For example, a
chapter could be quite small and a user group can be quite large, and there
is some flex in the issues that each will experience.

I'm happy to talk off-list about the legal issues if you wish. My head is
pretty packed with it, since I've been dealing with a lot of it over the
past few months as we're trying to scale up our activities and we're
looking at hosting the Wikimedia Conference next year. As you say, other
groups with different kinds of activities and ambitions might choose to
take a different and less careful approach. For example, a college
Wikipedia club with limited growth ambitions may have a lot less to think
about than we do.

I feel like I'm getting muddled in my explanation so I'll stop here and
just say that I'm happy to continue this conversation off list. Hopefully
we can get back to the discussion about affiliate user groups and mentoring
in general.

On Sun, Oct 18, 2015 at 10:27 PM, Gregory Varnum <gregory.var...@gmail.com>
wrote:

> It is limited liability on both parts, meaning that user groups are not
> required to become legal entities, or maintain the higher reporting and
> capacity requirements that chapters and thematic organizations are required
> to maintain.
>
> The considerations that you are mentioning are tied to your activities and
> not your status as a user group. It is a misleading and discouraging to
> others to imply that running a user group in the United States requires all
> of that liability and workload. User groups are not required to become
> legal entities (which Cascadia has opted to do), and can be as simple as a
> student club at a university. In other words, not all user groups are
> alike. The level of liability is tied to the activities the group engages
> in, not the affiliations model.
>
> -greg (User:Varnent)
> Vice Chair, Affiliations Committee
>
> > On Oct 19, 2015, at 12:56 AM, Pine W <wiki.p...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > Hi Manuel,
> >
> > Can you clarify what you mean by "limited liability" for user groups? I
> > think you mean limited responsibilities as far as WMF is concerned. As
> far
> > as the United States authorities are concerned, we have plenty of
> paperwork
> > that we're expected to deal with, particularly if we're handling funds
> > and/or hosting public events. Most of the paperwork is the same whether
> > there are 5 people or 500 people involved, so it's a pretty complex
> > operation, particularly if volunteers are dealing with all of this with
> no
> > paid help. I had some experience with business law prior to my
> involvement
> > in Cascadia Wikimedians, and even with that background I'm finding that
> > there is a lot to learn and a lot of paperwork to deal with in order to
> > keep our user group on solid legal ground.
> >
> > Pine
> >
> > On Sun, Oct 18, 2015 at 10:05 AM, Schneider, Manuel <
> > manuel.schnei...@wikimedia.ch> wrote:
> >
> >> Hi Ilario,
> >>
> >> it is the will of the board to make it easy to start a recognised body
> to
> >> do work and it is totally acceptable if these bodies also die after
> having
> >> fulfilled their purpose - or grow and develop into other affiliation
> >> models. So the criterium for us is easy entry.
> >>
> >> Anyway the user groups have limited liability and responsibilities,
> access
> >> to ressources is controlled on a case by case basis eg. through the
> Grant
> >> Avisory Committee and every year user groups must be renewed, for this
> we
> >> want so see a simple report. So every ug with the minimum of activity -
> a
> >> report written, having responded to our follow-up e-mail - is renewed.
> >>
> >> /Manuel
> >>
> >> --
> >> sent from mobile phoneAm 18.10.2015 4:46 nachm. schrieb Ilario Valdelli
> <
> >> valde...@gmail.com>:
> >>>
> >>> I personally think that the main concern, in this proliferation of
> >>> groups, is an lack of the implementation of a "good governance".
> >>>
> >>> A user group is like a body, it can born, can develop and can die.
> >>>
> >>> At the moment there is an unclear guideline about the monitoring and
> the
> >>> development of these groups: they can only born.
> >>>
> >>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_user_groups
> >>>
> >>> Basically the affiliation committee creates these entities, but don't
> >>> monitor them and don't evaluate to retire (or the best would be to
> >>> freeze) some old entities when they become essentially inactive or
> >> silent.
> >>>
> >>> In this case the balance would be compensated and the proliferation of
> >>> these groups would have a sense.
> >>>
> >>> Kind regards
> >>>
> >>> On 18.10.2015 16:48, Gregory Varnum wrote:
> >>>> The Affiliations Committee (AffCom) has been preparing for the
> >> increased momentum since the user group model was implemented, and it
> >> follows a pattern that we’ve been seeing over the past couple of years.
> In
> >> 2013, we approved 10 user groups, last year we approved 19, and so far
> this
> >> year we have approved around 20. That number will likely increase next
> >> year. This growing momentum is why we have continued to tweak the
> approval
> >> process to be faster and able to handle the growing momentum. So, from
> our
> >> perspective, this is something we have been preparing for from the
> start,
> >> and not a surprise.
> >>>>
> >>>> Personally, I think further complicating affiliate classifications is
> >> a bad idea. “Small” and “larger” are very culturally relative, varies
> >> across the models (there are user groups “larger” than chapters),
> changes
> >> over time, and implies that “large” affiliates do work “small”
> affiliates
> >> cannot, when we continue to see that is in fact not the case at all. The
> >> current criteria for WMCON is active and inactive, which seems far more
> >> appropriate. Additionally, dividing them will not save much money, if
> any,
> >> as there would still presumably be a gathering for the “small”
> affiliates.
> >>>>
> >>>> I agree with Leigh and others that affiliates should receive more
> >> support, but I do not think those efforts will be served well by further
> >> dividing them.
> >>>>
> >>>> -greg (User:Varnent)
> >>>> Vice Chair, Wikimedia Affiliations Committee
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>> --
> >>> Ilario Valdelli
> >>> Wikimedia CH
> >>> Verein zur Förderung Freien Wissens
> >>> Association pour l’avancement des connaissances libre
> >>> Associazione per il sostegno alla conoscenza libera
> >>> Switzerland - 8008 Zürich
> >>> Tel: +41764821371
> >>> http://www.wikimedia.ch
> >>>
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