Wikimedia is a global movement: the Wikimedia Foundation runs projects such as Wikipedia and distributes movement funds among Wikimedians around the world. The international communities work and fight together for Free Knowledge. There is a huge network of Wikimedia organisations, all committed to our common mission: “A world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.” Together, we are all exploring new territory. We are facing challenges on our way influencing society and changing the world.
Wikimedia Chapters are part of this international movement of Free Knowledge enthusiasts. They are crucial parts of our movement, covering a wide range of tasks and responsibilities. They work closely together with the local communities, cover financial and logistical support for projects to further our joint mission, facilitate the exchange of experiences, team up with partners from inside and outside the movement, and lead a whole lot of different programmes in support of Free Knowledge. While all Wikimedia Chapters are part of one movement, each Chapter has its unique set of goals, cultural values and knowledge.
The national Wikimedia Chapters play an important role in supporting the movement's diversity. Various cultures, points of view and experiences in spreading, defending and promoting Free Knowledge are important assets of the movement. Chapters need to develop, organise and collaborate with their stakeholders from within and outside the movement.
Within the Wikimedia movement, there is a lot of discussion – or dispute – about roles, relationships, responsibilities and the challenges the entities are facing. These discussions are often held behind closed doors and do not involve all affected parties, which again leads to uncertainty and speculation. And often, it seems that decisions only deal with the symptoms rather than addressing the cause behind the overall situation.
How does the movement build a shared understanding of what Chapters want to do? What are their wishes, roles, goals, and fears, what stories do they have to tell and what challenges are they facing? What support do they need in the different stages of development and who is in a position to offer this support? And what kind of collaboration and relationship do their stakeholders – for example the Wikimedia Foundation, the Affiliations Committee and the Funds Dissemination Committee – need?
Wikimedia Deutschland wanted to find out. We wanted to find out what lies behind the all-embracing term “the Chapters”. We felt that the movement needs a solid foundation of insights on which to base future plans and decisions.
In spring 2013, Wikimedia Deutschland kicked-off a structured assessment of the Chapters needs, goals and stories combined with a stakeholder survey. We called it “Chapters Dialogue”, to emphasise the open and communicative character of the intention.