Movement Charter/Frequently Asked Questions
The Movement Charter
What is the Movement Charter?
The Movement Charter is a document that will clarify the responsibilities and relationships between everyone in the Wikimedia movement. It will also result in the implementation of new structures and new decisions (for example: Global Council and Hubs).
Why is a Movement Charter needed?
Since the Wikimedia movement started, all the projects and responsibilities connected, have grown organically. The development of the Movement Charter is intended as a review of this governance model, and the final Charter will provide standard guidance and processes to ensure that the movement stays aligned. The Charter is important as it will be an essential document for the implementation of the 2030 strategy recommendations. That is why it should align closely with the needed direction for the Wikimedia movement through at least the next decade.
How will the Movement Charter affect communities and Wikimedia entities, including the Wikimedia Foundation?
One of the proposals from the Movement Strategy process is to have a Global Council, which could improve governance of our movement. This is why we invite you to tell us (the Movement Charter Drafting Committee) about what needs to change in the movement's governance, and also about the things that you are happy with and that should not change. Please share your thoughts on the talk page.
What is the origin story of the Movement Charter Drafting Committee?
The Movement Charter was originally envisioned to be written by an “Interim Global Council” (IGC). This proposed Council would have helped reform Wikimedia movement governance by performing three main tasks: 1. Creating the Movement Charter, 2. Setting up the Global Council, and 3. Overseeing the implementation of Movement Strategy. However, this would require quite a lot of resources and discussions to set up. To resolve this situation, a group of Wikimedians proposed starting with the Movement Charter to move the governance reform forward. The proposal effectively replaced the IGC with the Movement Charter Drafting Committee, the election and selection process for which was held in late 2021.
Development and communication processes
How do you write the Movement Charter drafts, from the beginning until its publication for community review?
The Movement Charter consists of many sections. We decided to divide into smaller working groups to draft each section. The initial drafts are derived from group discussions, research and experience. Those drafts are reviewed internally with the Drafting Committee and iterated until the full committee deems the drafts to be “good enough” to be consulted on by the community. (“Good enough” means there is enough content for the community to discuss and offer feedback on.) Once we meet that threshold, the drafts go through legal and legibility reviews, after which we update again. Finally, it is shared to be translated and published for community review.
The drafts we share for community review is by no means final; we want your feedback to help improve it. Tell us what you like and don’t like, and why you feel that way. Propose alternative options for us to consider. Share other interesting and credible research for us to review.
How do you ensure the Movement Charter drafts are available in the languages of the Wikimedia movement?
The Movement Charter is being drafted primarily in English. Before the English text is finalized, we will review each draft chapter text to ensure that it is readable and translatable, in order to accommodate the need and desire to translate it as simply and straight-forwardly as possible. All drafts will be translated from English to at least the following priority languages: Arabic, Chinese, Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Russian, Spanish, and Ukrainian. We selected those languages to cover the majority of community members. At the end of the process (which is when we have a full draft Charter), we will explore the possibility of having certified translations in these prioritized languages. Following the customary practice of internationally-enforceable contracts and treaties, a certain language will usually “take precedence” over other languages in the event of any differences in meaning. For the Charter, we anticipate that English will take that precedence over translations in other languages.
Will there be a legal review of the Movement Charter?
We have resolved for some draft chapters of the Movement Charter to undergo legal reviews, both internally from the Wikimedia Foundation’s Legal department and externally from a global law firm. The external legal review is done by by a reputable multinational law firm, which provide the service pro bono. When we have a full version of the Movement Charter, the internal and external legal review rounds will be done once again.
Why do the Movement Charter drafts need to undergo legal review?
The Movement Charter process aims to, among other things, decentralize and “share” powers that currently rests with the Wikimedia Foundation to other entities within the Wikimedia movement, where possible. However, some of these powers are linked (sometimes intrinsically) to the more existential features of the Foundation as a non-profit registered in the U.S. state of Florida. Both the internal and external legal reviews of the Movement Charter drafts are done to ensure that the Foundation will be able to support the eventual implementation of the Charter’s provisions and fulfill the mandate to decentralize its powers, while ensuring that as a legal entity with certain fiduciary responsibilities and obligations, the Foundation is not in breach of the laws and regulations of the United States and the state of Florida.
How are updates about the Movement Charter communicated?
We work with the support staff to plan and implement a detailed communications plan. The regular communication pieces include monthly updates, a monthly newsletter distribution, and casual updates. These have been specifically tailored to each stakeholder in the movement and to their desired level of engagement. In all official communications, we commit to using at least the United Nations official languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish, in addition to Brazilian Portuguese.
How will the Movement Charter Drafting Committee respond to messages and feedback?
We have a communications plan that distinguishes between four different levels of communication: informing (one way from the MCDC side), consulting, involving and collaborating. All the feedback received during the community conversations on various platforms of engagement and in different languages, such as Meta talk pages, Telegram channels, local on wiki conversations as well as community conversation hours, is carefully documented and handed over to the MCDC. MCDC will review all the feedback received, the supporting team will share a community consultation report in October, 2023.
Community conversations and engagement
How will the community be consulted about the Movement Charter?
We want to continuously listen to all the community feedback while we draft the Movement Charter. We have completed a conversation round for the first three draft chapters in November-December 2022 and another feedback cycle about the proposed ratification methodology in April 2023. The timeline is dynamic, so if we need more conversations from the Wikimedia movement, we will schedule more rounds. During these conversations, the support staff and the Movement Charter Ambassadors will reach out to the Wikimedia project communities, affiliates, and other entities. They will be able to provide feedback through various channels, such as the Wikimedia project talk pages, live call sessions, anonymous survey, or at the multilingual Movement Strategy Forum. You can monitor ongoing conversations at its Meta page.
What are the results from the previous rounds of community conversations about the Movement Charter?
For the first three draft chapters (Preamble, Values & Principles, and Roles and Responsibilities) that were the focus of the November-December 2022 conversations, you can read the consultation summary and responses to the feedback from us, the Drafting Committee. The chapters have been updated accordingly in May 2023 (and later in August 2023, for the Roles and Responsibilites draft chapter). For the proposed ratification methodology, we are still working to integrate all the feedback received and make decisions regarding the methodology; in the meantime, you can read the consultation summary.
How are you managing all the feedback that you receive?
We intend to follow up on the open points we receive in the live community consultations, to the emails we receive, and to the questions raised on the Meta talk page, in the Movement Strategy Telegram channel and at the Movement Strategy Forum. Considering the multiple channels we are watching, this may mean we will collect the questions and create a summarized response later.
How will you consider feedback from non-English speaking communities?
It is vital that we receive feedback from speakers of different languages and communities. With the help of the support staff and Movement Charter Ambassadors, we strive to ensure that all feedback, regardless of the language, is carefully considered and taken into account by the MCDC.
Are you accepting feedback from outside of the community conversations period?
Yes, we value feedback from the communities at all times, not just during the designated community conversations period. While there is a general plan on the level of outreach that would suit a certain stakeholder, this does not always correspond to what the stakeholder themselves perceive, since they might possess knowledge or experience that we are not aware of. Therefore, it is important that stakeholders who themselves would like to participate also feel free to express their opinions unsolicited, at any time they wish to do so. You can do so by emailing us at email@example.com.
What is the current plan for community conversations?
The third round of community conversations will center around the Global Council, Hubs, and Roles and Responsibilities draft chapters, which are being shared separately throughout July and August 2023 but will form a single conversation round. The decision to stagger the release date of these draft chapters was taken to allow our stakeholders more time to understand and analyze them, and in order to conserve our community members “bandwidth” to meaningfully discuss them, especially with August 2023 being the month of the hybrid Wikimania edition. We also plan to share the draft of the Charter’s Glossary, which defines and explains several terms that are used throughout the document. We will be accepting feedback for this round until 1 September 2023.
As for the remaining draft chapter, Decision-making, we are currently making decisions on when is the best time to launch it, with a view that its release should not be far too long from the chapters released in July 2023.
I am an individual contributor to a Wikipedia project or its sister projects. How can I be involved in community conversations?
We realize that the Movement Charter process is completely new to some parts of our Movement, and the majority of the individual contributors to our projects may find it difficult to relate to something like this, as they may find it unclear on how it affects their individual work. We strongly encourage you to participate in one (or more!) venues of engagement in our community conversations round, be it attending a scheduled call, commenting on the Meta talk page of the Global Council, Hubs, Roles & Responsibilities, or Glossary draft chapters (in any language that you feel comfortable), or take part in the open Movement Charter sessions during Wikimania 2023, in-person or virtually. You may also get in touch directly with the Charter Ambassador from your project or language community, if there is one.
I represent a Wikimedia movement affiliate (chapter, user group, or thematic organization). How can I be involved in community conversations?
We strongly encourage you to participate in one (or more!) venues of engagement in our community conversations round, be it attending a scheduled call, commenting on the Meta talk page of the Global Council, Hubs, Roles & Responsibilities, or Glossary draft chapters (in any language that you feel comfortable), or take part in the open Movement Charter sessions during Wikimania 2023, in-person or virtually. You may also host a call with your affiliate about the published Movement Charter drafts to discuss feedback and invite MCDC members to join the call to answer your questions.
I represent a group/organization that is yet to be recognized as a Wikimedia movement affiliate, or an informal, self-organized group that is outside of the Affiliate model. How can I be involved in community conversations?
You may be from a group that is still very new and seeking ways to grow and be recognized in the Affiliate ecosystem, or from an informal group (e.g. WikiProjects) that is outside of that ecosystem. Similar to the two groups above, you are welcome to participate in one (or more!) venues of engagement in our community conversations round, be it attending a scheduled call, commenting on the Meta talk page of the Global Council, Hubs, Roles & Responsibilities, or Glossary draft chapters (in any language that you feel comfortable), take part in the open Movement Charter sessions during Wikimania 2023, in-person or virtually, or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback.
I am part of the group that is piloting a Hub in my region or in a certain thematic area. How can I be involved in community conversations?
One focus of the current community consultation will focus on the draft chapter on Hubs. You may remember or have participated in the previous global conversations about Hubs, from which the draft chapter is being built upon. Your feedback, through the community conversation venues, are very much welcome.
Where can I learn more about the Movement Charter Ambassadors Program?
Please see the Ambassadors Program Frequently Asked Questions.
How can I propose an “official” Hubs conversation or a pilot in my region?
The Movement Charter Drafting Committee is responsible for defining hubs, but not for approving them. If you are interested in working on Hubs, it is advisable to read about the Hubs Dialogue conversation (March 2022), and the initial guidelines on piloting Hubs (September 2022). If you need funding, you can apply for a Movement Strategy Implementation grant from the Wikimedia Foundation. Please note that there are no “official hubs” yet, even if they are receiving funding from the Wikimedia Foundation, because there is no official approval process for them right now. Hubs are in a piloting phase right now. It is also worth noting that, when the Movement Charter is complete, the existing hub structures may need to change their structure to align with the Charter.
What is the current state of affairs when it comes to funds (raising and dissemination) in the Movement Charter?
The Global Council draft includes proposals for the Global Council’s involvement with fundraising and funds dissemination, including open questions for community input. Likewise, the Hubs draft also includes proposals for what hubs can do in terms of fundraising and funds dissemination.
How will the Movement Charter be ratified?
There was a ratification methodology proposed in April 2023. The proposal involves a slightly different voting or ratification process for: individual contributors, Wikimedia projects, Wikimedia affiliates and the Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Individuals would vote on SecurePoll or a similar platform. Individuals would also select a project towards which their vote counts. Each project and affiliate, as well as the Board, would need more than 50% support to successfully ratify the Movement Charter.
Do all voting groups have the same weight as each other?
Yes. According to the proposal, the weight of each Wikimedia project and each Wikimedia affiliate is equivalent to 1 vote, regardless of the number of active contributors or members. The Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees would only vote on acceptance of the Charter if all three other voting groups have already voted in favor of it; that is, they don't even vote unless there is (at minimum) majority support from individual contributors, projects as a group, and affiliates as a group. All four voting groups (individual contributors, projects, affiliates and BoT) must vote in favor of ratification for the Movement Charter to be ratified; opposition from any one voting group will mean that the Movement Charter is not ratified.
Can each individual's vote be counted more than once?
Yes. Individuals cast a direct vote on the voting platform (e.g. SecurePoll); that same vote will also be counted towards a Wikimedia project of their choice. Also, members of affiliate organizations may be able to vote within their affiliates.
How does this compare to other ratification methods in the movement?
Other ratification efforts, including the Universal Code of Conduct and its Enforcement Guidelines, have allowed every qualified voter to cost a vote in favor or opposition of ratification, and the majority vote decided the outcome. Because of the potential for the Movement Charter to change the entire structure of the Wikimedia movement, we need a more extensive ratification process that would explicitly allow a ratification vote from each of the major structures within the movement: the individual contributors, the affiliates, the Wikimedia projects and the WMF Board of Trustees.
What is the rationale for voting on the whole Movement Charter, and not on each section of the Movement Charter?
The content of the Charter is intertwined. For example the Decision-Making chapter is closely tied to the Roles & Responsibilities chapter, both are dependent on each other. This is why it is necessary to ratify the document as a whole.
Is there any other party that participates in the Committee’s processes?
Since June 2022, we have invited two members of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees (Natalia and Shani) to attend our bi-weekly meetings as liaisons. Both of them have spent years working within the Wikimedia community. They have been valuable to us in terms of being a sounding board and giving suggestions. They give input as individuals with experiences within the Wikimedia movement, which includes their roles as trustees; but their suggestions and inputs are not official positions from the Board of Trustees.. They do not have a vote when it comes to the Committee’s decisions.
Is the Drafting Committee accepting new members?
No. The Drafting Committee decided to stop accepting new members after 1 January 2023. It is time-consuming to orient someone to a process that has been ongoing for over a year. We know from experience that it was hard for members who joined us midway during the work to catch up. We also know that when we work in our groups on particular topics, we can reach out to individual community members with experience or knowledge with that topic to help us. We don't need to make someone a full member of the committee to bring them into the process to actively have a role in drafting certain sections.