Hi, * Chapter, user groups and online wikimedia project communities need not be mutually exclusive.
* A user group need not be created just for the sake of it without clear idea of the problem that it intends to solve and which cannot be solved by other already available means. For example, forming a Tamil Wikimedia user group in SriLanka will make sense as we have legal and financial restrictions of spending India chapter's money in other countries. But, there is no need felt to start a Tamil Wikimedia user group in Tamilnadu. Will a global Tamil user group like https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Esperanto_kaj_Libera_Scio help? May be. But, it isn't a pressing need. Whenever we come up with a project or grant request, it is well supported already by WMF and Wikimedia India. Please also note that for a country like India, a registered and legal entity like chapter is very essential. Because, without a letter pad and official seal, we can't enter many places. And without such entities, we can't conduct mega projects with big budgets (Individuals who receive money on behalf of communities or user groups will face tax audit issues. And the process needs to be repeatedly done every time by a new individual) * A user group will help when they operate across multiple projects and regions. For example, GLAM volunteers and Mediawiki hackers. But, I see this as a convenience as to organize the volunteers themselves formally than as a requirement to operate outside other entities like chapter, especially when they are willing to support them. * Please note that many of the current and waiting to be approved user groups are just incubators for future chapters. We will be going backwards if we dissolve the chapter and split into user groups. * Yes, Wikimedia India chapter could have fared better. But, I wouldn't blame it or any single person or EC. Like any Wikimedia project, it can only become better with more participation, collaboration and emergence of natural leadership. For a complex country like India, it will take time. 7 members of EC are not super humans and they are not supposed to do all the work by themselves. Any such expectation set by themselves or from the members should be reconsidered. In my personal experience interacting with the chapter, they have always supported us in all ways possible. Only if the chapter stands in the way of any aspiring member / community's plan, it should be highlighted and discussed. * The chapter is already as democratic as it could be by design. In fact, most of it's problems stem from that and not because of lack of democracy. Other players in the movement like WMF or their working partners like CIS don't have this issue while chapters have to face this issue. So, it is unfair to judge chapter's performance without considering this crucial aspect. * Whatever be the structural setup we might agree, it is not going to solve all issues. We need to think with it and also outside the box. * I am surprised that no one highlighted the impact of non-community organizations like CIS in the movement. Once, I asked an active Indian Wikimedian who initiated many chapter events and then started collaborating with CIS, why he made this transition. His answer: "Chapter doesn't give us money. CIS gives money". And there you see, how in the name of language community strategy of WMF through CIS has bifurcated the community. This, in my view, is a bigger issue that needs to be addressed. Ravi
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