Mailing List Archive

Wikimedia chapters' raison d'être?
Wikimedia chapters are not only an example of what should not be seen
in Wikimedia projects (an "institution[...], of any kind, [...]
claiming to represent [...] individuals" [1]) they also absorb funds
and hire people, pushing with more weight the goal to make money (a
salaried person expects his/her salary to be increased by X % each
year) which is different from what a volunteer based project should
be.

They aslo are de facto put in a position where people expect them to
perform decision making. It is already bad that they deprive the
communities of a decision making of their own, and take volunteer
seats at the WMF board of trustees, but they don't do the job. See
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Template_talk:CC-AR-Presidency#Bad_template_for_new_files
. If the chapters showed that they are helpful in doing things better
than what volunteer communities alone can do, they could prove that
they are useful. But I am afraid they are not doing this. If they are
not present when we need them...

[1] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/2010_Wikimedia_Study_of_Controversial_Content#7._Wikimedia_Projects_serve_the_Information_Needs_of_Individuals.2C_Not_Groups

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Re: Wikimedia chapters' raison d'être? [ In reply to ]
Hi Teofilo,

most likely some people will tell me afterwards that I should not have
answered your email, because of famous internet laws, but I will do so none
the less to avoid that people are being misinformed by your email.

>Teofilo: "(...) they also absorb funds (...)"
Chapters do not 'absorb' funds, but they do collect them, provide a part of
those to the Wikimedia Foundation to run the infrastructure, and spend
another part to run programs which should result in more free knowledge.
Chapters (and WMF) should however keep working / work harder (depending on
the organization) to share these projects and their outcomes so that there
is less confusion about this.

> Teofilo: "(...) and hire people (...) which is different from what a
volunteer based project should be."
Some chapters do indeed hire people, and most currently don't. When they
hire people, that is not to replace volunteers - that would be, imho, a
stupid thing to do. However, having run projects in chapters for quite a
while as a volunteer, I can confirm that sometimes the help of staff can
help volunteers to become more motivated, effective and efficient if well
implemented.
Most chapters I know of are extremely careful who to hire as staff, and the
balance between staff and volunteers is constantly scrutinized. Even
further, every chapter is in the end controlled by its General Assembly, a
body made up of... volunteers. More democratic than the Foundation even.

>Teofilo: " and take volunteer seats at the WMF board of trustees"
Unfortunately yet another mistake. Chapters do not 'take' volunteer seats.
The chapters are able to nominate two of the ten board seats - they don't
'own' the seats. If your point is that the Wikimedia Foundation could use
more democracy, I would agree to some extent. I am however not sure if
changing the board structure is the best way to implement that.

> Teofilo: "But I am afraid they are not [being helpful]"
I'll leave that comment for your account. However, I would like to recommand
you to see my lecture on Wikimedia Chapters at this year's Wikimania,
outlining some 45 interesting projects executed by Wikimedia chapters in the
past year - and this was only a small selection. The slides are available on
Wikimedia Commons (
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wikimedia_Chapters_-_Wikimania_2011.pdf)
and the video will become available later. Several of these projects might
also have come off without the existance of a chapter, but most likely many
of them wouldn't. You may disagree with the use of some - but I think that
overall it should be clear that chapters are helpful to our mission both
directly through programs and indirectly through supporting the foundation,
the movement and the community. That is not the same as that every chapter
is doing exactly what you would like them to. You are very welcome to join a
chapter (as a member or (long distance) volunteer) or another non-chapter
organizational group inside the movement.

With kind regards,

Lodewijk

2011/8/17 Teofilo <teofilowiki@gmail.com>

> Wikimedia chapters are not only an example of what should not be seen
> in Wikimedia projects (an "institution[...], of any kind, [...]
> claiming to represent [...] individuals" [1]) they also absorb funds
> and hire people, pushing with more weight the goal to make money (a
> salaried person expects his/her salary to be increased by X % each
> year) which is different from what a volunteer based project should
> be.
>
> They aslo are de facto put in a position where people expect them to
> perform decision making. It is already bad that they deprive the
> communities of a decision making of their own, and take volunteer
> seats at the WMF board of trustees, but they don't do the job. See
>
> http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Template_talk:CC-AR-Presidency#Bad_template_for_new_files
> . If the chapters showed that they are helpful in doing things better
> than what volunteer communities alone can do, they could prove that
> they are useful. But I am afraid they are not doing this. If they are
> not present when we need them...
>
> [1]
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/2010_Wikimedia_Study_of_Controversial_Content#7._Wikimedia_Projects_serve_the_Information_Needs_of_Individuals.2C_Not_Groups
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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