2013 has been a turbulent year for the committee with many ups and downs, including recognising the first couple of user groups, internal challenges with members, and WMF Board decisions that have reduced the Committee's momentum at the end of the year.
During the year the Committee approved 9 user groups, 3 chapters, and 2 thematic organisations. Unfortunately, the WMF Board has decided not to endorse two of these recognitions, that of Wikimedia Iceland and The Wikinewsie Group.
The main results of the year included the recognition of the first batch of user groups testing in practice the recognition processes designed in the previous year, the recognition of the first thematic organisation endorsed by the WMF Board of Trustees, and the resolution of two longstanding contentious recognition cases concerning the Wikimedia communities of Brasil and Amical.
State of affiliates
|Affiliates at the end of the year||2011||2012||2013|
The Committee has recommended the approval of 3 chapters in 2013 (up from 0 in 2012, but down from 9 in 2011). The Board has approved 2 chapters in 2013 (1 chapter was approved in 2012), resulting in 41 recognised chapters at the end of 2013 (39 at the end of 2012).
In the second year of the new models of affiliation in place, the Committee has finalised the on-going recognition processes from 2012 and a number of new applications started in 2013. In the end, the Committee has recommended the approval of 2 thematic organisations (up from 0 in 2012). The Board has accepted one of those recommendations bringing the total number of recognised thematic organisations at the end of the year to 1 (0 at the end of 2012).
However, the most popular model was that of user groups, where the Committee has approved 9 groups (up from 0 in 2012) with diverse areas of interest: 2 MediaWiki Groups, 4 with distinct geographic focus, and 3 focused around a given language, topic or sister project. User groups are approved directly by the Affiliations Committee for a specified amount of time. In 2013 2 user group recognitions have expired without renewal, bringing the total number of user groups at the end of 2013 to 7 (up from 0 at the end of 2012).
Overall, the year has marked the practical introduction of the new types of affiliates, who were mostly well received by the existing chapters. The recognition of Amical Wikimedia, and the Brazilian user group have marked a reduction in tensions in the movement that arose from the incompatibility of the chapter model with the needs and characteristics of these two groups. With the year of experience, we can state that the question of acceptance of user groups in geographies where a chapter already exist still needs further work, discussion and overall clarification of expectations in the movement. The renewal of the freshly accepted groups will be a challenge in the year 2014.
Going forward, taking into account the Board's November decision, in 2014 we expect an almost complete tapering off of new chapter and thematic organisation recognitions, and a similar number of new user groups being recognised as in 2013. Increasing the overall growth of the network of offline Wikimedia affiliates will require further investments into community building in geographies currently not covered by active, internationally visible communities of Wikimedia volunteers.
In 2013, cooperation between chapters continued with the annual Wikimedia Conference, that was after a long time in Berlin, held in Milan. The conference had attendees from chapters, the WMF, FDC, AffCom as well as, for the first time, invited attendees from prospective thematic organisations and WMF grant partners. The Affiliations Committee's participation resulted in the resolution of the recognition of Amical as a thematic organisation at a meeting held with representatives of Amical, AffCom, the WMF Board and the WMF Legal Team; as well as the creation of an updated budget for the fiscal year 2013/2014. The Committee was also criticised for not having organised a formal meeting at the conference.
However, good spirits were broken when the attempt to set up a Wikimedia Chapters Association encountered further and further setbacks, including a non-endorsement by the Wikimedia Foundation and a decision at Wikimania by the members to suspend or disband the WCA.
Other notable events in the WMF-affiliate relations in the year included the two rounds of the FDC; and the WMF Board's November decisions that effectively brought a stop to recognising new chapters and thematic organisations and rejected two Affiliations Committee recommendations.
Things that went well
The main accomplishments of the year were the successful running of the user group and thematic organisation processes, the resolution of long-standing difficult cases, and the continuation on the good practices of the previous year in having regular meetings, an established budget and better activity levels among members.
New processes in action
The new thematic organisation and user group processes were supported through the finalisation of the relevant agreements by the WMF Legal team in cooperation with the Affiliations Committee.. The successful recognition of 9 user groups and two thematic organisations have proved that the processes work, although it was recognised that they need to be sped up. A good amount of our annual meeting was devoted to discussing ways to improve the process.
Resolved long-standing recognitions
In 2013 the Committee has managed to resolve two long standing outstanding recognitions.
At the 2013 Wikimedia Conference in Milan, in a meeting between representatives of Amical, the WMF Board and staff, and the Affiliations Committee, an agreement was reached that the Catalan application for chapterhood would be resolved by transforming it as a thematic organisation application under the name Amical Wikimedia, allowing the group to use the Wikimedia logo and name, and receiving formal recognition inside the Wikimedia movement. As a result of the agreement reached in Milan, Amical Wikimedia was eventually approved by the WMF Board of Trustees as the first thematic organisation on 5 June.
Similarly, as a result of a series of meetings at Wikimania with community members from Brasil, as well as WMF staff and contractors working in Brasil, we have reached an agreement with the community on their ambivalent application for chapterhood. Under the agreement, the community would seek recognition and work as a user group for a period of at least a year, and they may continue to work towards founding a formal organisation to be recognised as a chapter in a year's time if that remains the community's wish. As a result of the agreement reached at Wikimania the Wikimedia Community User Group Brasil was recognised as a user group by the Affiliations Committee in December 2013.
Common in the two cases was the concentrated efforts to communicate commitments from both the Affiliations Committee and the groups in question. To this end, it was helpful that multiple members of the Affiliations Committee and the given group were present in both occasions.
The Committe held its annual meeting at the 2013 Wikimania, where we later set up a booth in the Chapters Village and were able to meet with community members from all around the world.
While the meeting's logistics were far from ideal, and the choice of venue has received some scrutiny by community members, overall the mission can be considered a success.
A full report has been published on Meta after the event.
The main challenges for the year were disgruntled members and the perceived lack of trust from the WMF Board at the end of the year.
The reported challenges surrounding activity levels from the previous years have mostly resolved themselves by 2013, so the new year brought its own set of new challenges.
In April, a former member and adviser of the Committee has quit over his disagreement over the Committee not deciding to hold an annual meeting at the Wikimedia Conference in Milan and the projected costs of the meeting at Wikimania. Unfortunately, for some reason, he did not feel comfortable sharing his concerns inside the Committee, resolving instead to using his blog and leaking some yet to be published inside information.
Later in the year the Committee had a chance to test the proposed procedures for removing inactive members when one of our members seemingly decided to cut back on certain Wikimedia activities following his displeasure with a decision made by the FDC. As a courtesy, his membership was not immediately terminated but rather he was considered a suspended member for 3 months, at the end of which he would have had to make a decision whether to continue as a member. As no decision was forthcoming, a literal reading of the policy resulted in his membership not expiring despite the lack of any expressed interest in resuming activities. In the end, the member in question lost his membership under a different clause of the standards of participation.
Despite the above challenges, overall, the activity levels inside the Committee have improved with the successful integration of new members.
WMF Board relations
During a November Board retreat the WMF Board of Trustees have decided to revise the standards of recognition for chapters and thematic organisations requiring them to first be active as user groups for a period of two years. Unfortunately, the decision has marked a serious communication disconnect between the Board and the Affiliations Committee, as it was made without proper prior open consultation with either the Committee or the general Wikimedia movement, and has created a situation where the Committee had serious concerns over the negative effects of the decision.
It should be noted that the Committee was consulted by a staff member on a different proposal beforehand, and it is conceivable the Board took that consultation as a proper consultation with the Committee despite the fact that it did not go through the official liaisons assigned between the Board and the Committee and was concerning a different proposal (that the Committte did not endorse).
All in all, the above events and the level of details available to the Committee at the time have seriously demotivated Committee members at the end of 2013 (the decision was not communicated to the public yet, further frustrating Committee members), destroying much of the trust between the WMF and the Committee and ending the momentum in continuing the improvement of our processes. Restoring the trust, clarifying the communication channels, and rebuilding momentum will be tasks for 2014.
Affiliates approved in 2013
- MediaWiki Group San Francisco
- Mediawiki Group Promotion
- Esperanto kaj Libera Scio
- Wikimedians of Nepal
- GLAM-Wiki U.S. Consortium
- Wikimedia Community User Group Greece
- Wikisource Community User Group
- Wikimedia Community User Group Brasil
- New England Wikimedians
Members and advisers
Members at the beginning of 2013:
- Damian Finol
- Lodewijk Gelauff
- Jeromy-Yu Chan
- Bence Damokos
- Sebastian Moleski
- Ray Saintonge
- Tomasz Kozłowski
- Bengt Oberger
- Maria Sefidari
- Galileo Vidoni
Members at the end of 2013:
- Lodewijk Gelauff
- Bence Damokos
- Galileo Vidoni
- Carlos Colina
- Josh Lim
- Salvador Alcantar
- Tanvir Rahman
- Gregory Varnum
Advisers in 2013:
- Arne Klempert
- Delphine Ménard
- Vladimir Medeyko
- Tomasz Kozłowski
Board liaisons in 2013:
- Bishakha Datta
- Patricio Lorente
- Maria Sefidari
Staff observers and liaisons in 2013:
- Asaf Bartov
- Stephen LaPorte
- Quim Gil
For full details see the relevant Meta page.
Finances are tracked and handled by the Wikimedia Foundation under the Committee's Charter. For informational purposes, we present here the budgets and associated budget resolutions for the 2013 calendar year.
The main expenses in calendar year 2013 were a start up grant for Wikimedia Belgium,, participation at the 2013 Wikimedia Conference,, an annual meeting co-located with Wikimania,, and scholarships to attend Wikimania for two affiliates-to-be,.
- This report is compiled pursuant to the Affiliations Committee’s Charter (Meetings and process section, point 4) and covers the period between 1 January and 31 December 2013. Subsequent events and information have not been included.
- User group approval resolutions in 2013:
- Chapter approval resolutions in 2013:
- Thematic organisation approval resolutions in 2013:
- Budget Request Milan
- Budget request for 2013 annual meeting
- Budget Request Belgium
- Wikimania 2013 scholarships
- Wikimedia Armenia and Wikimedia Uruguay
- Amical Wikimedia
- The expired recognitions are:
- Minutes of the November 23-24 meeting
- User Group Agreement and Thematic Ogranization Agreement
- Report of the annual meeting
- Board resolution
- Wikimedia Community User Group Brasil resolution
- Standards of participation
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Messages per year 737 615 1266 1322 1181 729 1719 3221 Monthly average 67 51 106 110 98 61 143 268
A proxy measure of this activity is the traffic that goes through its mailing list. In 2013 the list traffic consisted of 3221 messages (268/month on average), up from 1719 (143/month on average) in 2012, a roughly 87% increase.
- Cf. February 2014 statement
- Affiliations Committee Charter
- Affiliations Committee budget 2012/13
- Affiliations Committee Budget 2013/14
- Budget Request Belgium - March 2013
- Budget Request Milan – March 2013
- Budget request for 2013 annual meeting – April 2013
- Wikimania 2013 scholarships – May 2013