Hello all, On Saturday 15 June 2019 Wikimedia Belgium had its annual General Assembly in Brussels.
*New board* Two board members have indicated to step down: * Afernand74 * SPQRobin We thank them for their work and valuable input in the past years! They remain available for advice to the board. Two board members were up for re-election after their previous terms ended. Both board members have been re-elected without any votes against them, and they will keep serving Wikimedia Belgium in their roles. * Geertivp - president * Romaine - treasurer One new board member has been elected without any votes against. * Taketa - long term Wikipedia editor and organiser of various activities Welcome Taketa! The rest of the board remains the same and the board continues the work and development of our chapter. *Evaluation behaviour WMF* As board we have the obligation to inform the General Assembly and other stakeholders about the developments with our chapter, both the good developments as well as the bad developments. A year ago, with our previous General Assembly, we were hopeful to resolve the issues we then had with on other organisation in the movement, the Wikimedia Foundation. Sadly we had to inform the General Assembly that instead of improvements, the behaviour of multiple individuals from the Wikimedia Foundation is below any standard. This concerns one member of the grants team and multiple members of the Trust and Safety team, as well as their supervisors. On request of the Trust & Safety team no names are mentioned. Below is a summary of what happened. *Case 1* In April 2017 the treasurer of Wikimedia Belgium (Romaine) spoke with our new grants staff member from the Wikimedia Foundation as WMBE was scheduled to change from successful project grants in 2017 and earlier years to Simple Annual Plan grants. During this meeting the plan for WMBE in 2018 was proposed and was fine for the grants staff member. In the Summer of 2017 this had been worked out, and with an online call our annual plan was considered fine. With the final submission in October 2017, our annual grants proposal was reviewed by the grants staff member from WMF, had some minor remarks we fixed, and was considered to be excellent. In December 2017 we were informed that our grant request (suddenly) was, to summarise, complete wrong. It contained factual errors (like facts do not matter), inconsistencies, the comment that Wikimedia France and Wikimedia Netherlands could take everything over in Belgium, suggesting that Belgium has no culture (this is a serious insult to us), and much more. (For your reference: Wikimedia Belgium had over 90 events and activities in 2017, including a photo contest, education program, GLAM program with content donations, workshops and edit-a-thons, and more.) It raised us a lot of questions, which we asked, but our grants member of WMF refused to seriously answer them. Even with our lack of information and received insults, we tried to be constructive and before Christmas we proposed to the grants staff member that we would re-write during the Christmas holidays our annual plan (as the staff member had said many times we could improve it). With the e-mail following from the grants member of WMF this proposal was not rejected. So during the two weeks of the Christmas holidays we spent many days, together with the help from another experienced chapter representative, re-writing our annual plan. After the Christmas holidays, we were ready, and the response from the grants member from WMF was then that the re-written version could not be taken into account... After some further e-mails with this staff member we concluded as WMBE mid January 2018 that a collaboration with this individual from WMF is impossible and we banned this individual from ever contacting us again and we never communicated ever with this person again. The supervisor of this staff member has been informed by us about what happened, and refused to even investigate the situation. A colleague from the staff member took over and we received our budget for 2018. Later during 2018 and 2019 this WMF staff member helped us very well with questions, provided useful feedback and the annual plan for 2019 which was approved. We are now happy with this collaboration. *Case 2* During the Wikimedia Conference in April 2018 we still had many questions and our treasurer spoke with various other affiliates if they had advice, good practices, etc etc, so that we could improve our future annual plans. Instead of that good advice was given, they shared their similar bad experiences they had in the past years with our former grants person from WMF. Many of them indicated that they do not want the feedback/criticism to be public as they feel that their budget would be cut by WMF as result of it. With multiple chapter representatives we started to collect the feedback so that we could come up with some recommendations for improvements for both the WMF processes regarding grants as well as recommendations for affiliates for how to write better annual plans. Our former grants person from WMF heard about the initiative and started to tell bad (untrue) stories about WMBE's treasurer to bring him in discredit. Multiple people have testified that our former grants person was doing this, gossip like that WMBE's treasurer was planning to attack that grants person. The Trust & Safety team heard about it and drew immediately the conclusion that the gossip was true, without checking the facts, without even talking to any of the involved individuals, and asked WMBE's treasurer not to approach or contact the former grants person. (To be crystal clear: there was never ever a plan to contact the grants person from WMF at all.) Even after the Trust & Safety team spoke with WMBE's treasure, the gossip continued, causing a very unsafe conference space. A member of the Trust & Safety team was later informed about the ongoing gossip and refused to take any action to stop it, indicating not to take it seriously. *Case 3* During Wikimania 2018, WMBE's treasurer was asked to help the organisers of Wikimania in Cape Town to help and assist wherever needed. One of the tasks was to bring stuff from A to B on request. Everything seemed to go fine. Halfway the conference, WMBE's treasurer was casually approached by a member of the Trust and Safety team with a question to have a chat. A second team member came and they took an elevator together. In the elevator the team members made jokes and were laughing. As soon as they were in the room, it was made clear that the Trust & Safety team had received complaints about WMBE's treasurer. The main complaint was: being in the same (large) room as the grants member of WMF. The complainant was the grants member of WMF, and this person claimed that WMBE's treasurer had said something and that the grants member from WMF had been highly distressed resulting in not being able to do the presentation (later in that session) well. The situation was that WMBE's treasurer was asked to bring something to a room where a session just started (such requests happen many times during the conference, the grants person who complained was not presenting at that time), the materials were handed to someone in the back of the room and he left the room silently as quickly as possible. Multiple people present in that session have testified that he did not speak while bringing materials to the room, and they also testified that the presentation by the grants person from WMF went reasonable well. Also, during lunch WMBE's treasurer was sitting somewhere very visible to everyone, where the grants person from WMF came standing next to the treasurer, approached from the front. If the grants person from WMF really gets highly distressed by his presence, this person would not have done that. The Trust & Safety team blindly believed the statements made by their WMF colleague, the team did not ask witnesses in the room about what happened, all the information here above was provided to the Trust & Safety team, but the Trust & Safety team fully ignored this information and the witnesses who say otherwise. Three additional anonymous complaints were: * speaking to loud * standing to close * having touched someone's hand/arm It must be noted that *none* of the people that complained to the Trust & Safety team had indicated to WMBE's treasurer to experience anything as problem. Also, WMBE's treasurer has as disability that he hears less, does not hear well what the height of his volume is (but still trying to not to speak too loud), and with bad acoustics has to stand closer to people to hear them well. The Trust & Safety team was informed about this during the meeting. Also in the local culture where he comes from touching is a normal thing. Also many people that have been frequently with WMBE's treasurer at the conference have indicated that he did not speak too loud. During the meeting the Trust & Safety team told that they already had informed everyone in the organising team that they demanded WMBE's treasurer must stop helping in organising Wikimania 2018, meaning that they already had drawn the conclusion even before speaking with him. They also indicated that they "had to do something" so they could show the complainants that they do something when complaints are received, even while their decision did not solve/improve the complaints at all. The Trust & Safety team refused to think about real solutions, they refused to organise a dialogue to solve the complaints, they refused to mediate, they promised to organise a meeting with a supervisor, but that they never did. It also became clear they have zero feeling with people with autism. The Trust & Safety said they could not share any more information about what happened because of the privacy of the complainants. During the conference WMBE's treasurer made it public, to prevent having to tell emotionally what happened, as well as for transparency reasons. This did not take away that he felt ever since that chat highly unsafe as result by the behaviour of the Trust & Safety team, and still continues up to today, as well as he also had been five weeks ill after the conference because of this. Many people at the conference indicated to disagree with the decision of the Trust & Safety team, including WMF staff members and Wikimania's organising team. During the conference many of them approached the Trust & Safety team about it, various of them also proposing other solutions that. In these talks the Trust & Safety team shared a lot more details which they refused to share with WMBE's treasurer. Also the Trust & Safety team told that he had been warned before (which is not true), as well as exaggerating and framing what supposedly had happened. *Afterwards* After Wikimania the Trust & Safety team received an e-mail from WMBE's treasurer with a more detailed overview of what happened, including the many witnesses who claim differently. But all of this was fully ignored by the Trust & Safety team. After the conference nothing had been heard from the Trust & Safety team, until mid December 2018. In the first two weeks of December 2018 WMBE's treasurer received multiple e-mails from WMF staff members, including strangely in what was written a farewell and thank you for all the work. Apparently the Trust & Safety team had shared their new decision with other departments, while actual stakeholders were not informed. About a week later both the treasurer of WMBE as the president of WMBE (but none of the other organisations he is active for) received an e-mail in what the Trust & Safety team indicates to have received further complaints: - First they refer to the situation in December 2017-January 2018 concerning the interaction with the former grants person from WMF. Apparently the Trust & Safety team fully has ignored all the insults at the address of our chapter and country. Also the e-mail reads largely like the grants person itself had written the e-mail. - Because of this they forbid WMBE's treasurer to ever contact WMBE's former grants person at WMF (one way only!) (Even while WMBE had banned every contact with this person already in January 2018.) - And they forbid to have contact with WMF grants grants team for about two years. (Even while the contact with all the other members of the grants team was going fine, even receiving various compliments. ) Still it was decided by Wikimedia Belgium to keep WMBE's treasurer as treasurer of WMBE. - Someone at the conference saw WMBE's treasurer with a mascot and asked the name of the mascot. Answer: "Wendy the Weasel", clearly indicating a female name. The question that followed was what the gender was of the mascot. WMBE's treasurer was thinking that this was just said, and replied that as there are no outer organs the mascot must be female. (Having asked around, in the part of the world where WMBE's treasurer lives this is not considered a problem, but maybe this is differently elsewhere and is there a taboo.) - Someone had indicated that WMBE's treasurer has been standing in the way of that person and blocking the complainants path at Wikimania. It was a space of about 1.5 to 2 metres, where also multiple other people where standing, and people passing by were asked question, but everyone who wanted to pass by could do so. - Someone has told that WMBE's treasurer would have said that he would visit conferences "to pick up girls". Everybody who knows WMBE's treasurer knows this is nonsense. Some contest: WMBE's treasurer has someone he loves in his home country with zero interest of that kind in anyone else, and falls in the category of LGBT+ and does not fall on the women at the conferences. It must be noticed extremely suggestive interpretations of other people (that do not have the regular impressions, like due being LGBT+), have far reaching effects as conclusions. Such is an insult. - Because of this they forbid WMBE's treasurer to be present at events funded directly/indirectly by WMF for two years. Again it must be noticed that the Trust & Safety team for the third time on a row refuses to talk with the individual who it concerns first, before drawing any conclusions. The Trust & Safety team comes in their e-mail with a lot of assumptions based on loose sand. They also claim that WMBE's treasurer fails to assume good faith. In an e-mail to the presidents of two chapters they said that "they know how he thinks", followed by a lot of nonsense and false claims. The Trust & Safety team does not assume good faith themselves if they write that. The Trust & Safety team provided in their communication zero examples of where the Friendly Space Policy has been breached. The situation of WMBE's treasurer and the Trust & Safety team has been reviewed by an independent professional with expertise in complaints handling. The conclusion of this expert: almost everything that the Trust & Safety team could have done wrong in handling complaints, they did do wrong. Many basic principles in complaint handling and conflict resolution have been ignored by the Trust & Safety team. In addition to this, they communicate very intimidating as well as with treats. The way how they work/communicate gives the impression like a staff member of WMF is more worth than a volunteer from the community. Two chapters have reached out to the Wikimedia Foundation, indicating that the way how the Trust & Safety team was operating is not appropriate, but WMF refuses to take these concerns seriously and has ignored this fully. Again the Trust & Safety team refuses to work together on actual solutions. To summarise, feedback/information from WMBE's treasurer has been ignored by WMF, feedback from the president of WMBE has been ignored by WMF, feedback from the president and director of WMNL have been ignored by WMF, feedback from other staff members in WMF have been ignored by WMF, feedback from many community members from the movement have been ignored. Because of the behaviour of the trust & Safety team that causes for everyone in the movement an unsafe place, WMBE's treasurer has decided to indefinitely stop attending WMF funded events. At the General Assembly it was requested to request an internal audit in WMF to bring all the problems there to the light. _______________________________________________ Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l New messages to: Wikimediafirstname.lastname@example.org Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, <mailto:wikimedia-l-requ...@lists.wikimedia.org?subject=unsubscribe>