Movement Strategy/Events/Movement Charter Global Conversation, 26-27 June 2021/Movement Strategy Global Events Telegram group report

For other conversations organized in other channels and languages, see Local conversations.

An invitation to discuss the three questions about the Movement Charter drafting committee was sent to the Movement Strategy Global Events Telegram group on Wednesday, June 18. This channel has about 400 members subscribed. Telegram has no tools to support structured discussions, There was a lot discussed, but in a way that only a few could join or even follow.

The discussion in the first 48 hours got at times overwhelming and dense, even if it was driven by just a handful of people. In the following days the volume and focus of the conversation increased thanks to the definition of topics for discussion and light moderation. The discussion was organized around the three questions. On the 6th day (June 22-23) there was a discussion beyond the three questions, about how the review process could work during the drafting, a topic that kept coming in other conversations. After this, the conversation became more general and the experimental discussion faded away.

Many of the participants were regulars in Movement Charter conversations, including a few promoters of proposals.

Based on this and other conversations, the Wikimedia Foundation shared a proposal for a process to create the Movement Charter drafting committee.

Some data (manually retrieved, it may contain little mistakes)

  • Day 1 (first 24 hours): 16 participants (off topic or “+1” etc not counted).
  • Day 2: 16 participants (4 new, 20 in total)
  • Day 3: 12 participants (2 new, 22 in total)
  • Day 4: 15 participants (3 new, 25 in total)
  • Day 5: 12 participants (no new, 25 in total)
  • Day 6: 13 participants (no new, 25 in total)

QuestionsEdit

1. What composition should the committee have in terms of movement roles, gender, regions, affiliations and other diversity factors?

  • There is broad agreement on the diversity and the expertise that the committee needs to have as a team (see Diversity & Expertise matrix).
    • Ideas
      • Screen participants publicly on meta on diversity and expertise factor.
    • Points of agreement
      • The Diversity and Expertise matrix do capture diversity and expertise factors pretty well.
      • If there is a regional distribution, Africa and Middle East should not be grouped together.
    • Points of disagreement
      • A single participant claimed only users are legitimate members of the committee, and no one from WMF or affiliates who aren't user should be allowed on the committee.
  • Some believe that there should be specific seats or quotas assigned to members with specific qualities (affiliation, region, gender…), some believe that the composition should be flexible as long as it meets the diversity and expertise requirements.
    • Ideas
      • How can we engage more people to participate in the discussions about  the Movement Charter, beyond the usual group that discusses in English?
      • If there is an election for the projects, the criteria of expertise and diversity would be met through the selection done by the affiliates and the Foundation.
      • At least a third of the committee needs to have a clear relation with groups underrepresented in our movement.
      • In general, it can be considered that seats for affiliates is very similar to allocating seats regionally.
    • Points of agreement
      • There are many voices saying un(der)represented groups should be on the committee
    • Points of disagreement
      • Some people don't like quota
      • Whether gender and regional diversity should be required, recommended, or even considered.
      • A single participant claimed only users are legitimate members of the committee, and no one from WMF or affiliates who aren't user should be allowed on the committee.

2. What is the best process to select the committee members to form a competent and diverse team?

  • There is broad agreement on the need to form a diverse and competent team, but opinions differ about how to achieve this.
    • Ideas
      • Running an election for a portion of the committee alongside the Board election.
      • Designating the four people elected to the board as an electoral college that can appoint some of the MC members
      • Form a small group tasked to create the committee.
      • Use participatory methods and tools to make sure that everyone can voice their ideas during the drafting process, and reduce the pressure of representation in the committee itself.
      • The drafting process is more important than who is on the committee. As long as the committee commits to an open, iterative and consultative process, collects and processes feedback on increments of draft texts from all constituents within the movement, ratification will come by itself.
      • Have participants in the Global Conversation state their intent, and what they want to achieve or accomplish in this process, and whether they do or don't want to be on the committee. There are many people rejecting a lot of proposals, or objecting to them, or when ideas start to converge come up with new ideas, effectively postponing decisions, and leading to a lot of procrastination. Effectively we are going around in circles for six months now, whether to elect or appoint committee members.
      • What happens if there not enough candidates self-nominating, or there aren't enough candidates skilled for this type of work?
      • Why we don’t just bring those who are interested together with some externals and professional facilitation and make it an open group where people also can join later or leave when they find out that it is not what they expected.
      • There was appetite to discuss experimental ideas to form groups (i.e. randomly), but conceived for additional; working groups or groups of reviewers; at the end most ideas to select the core members were based on election or appointment.
      • There was discussion about the mode of citizen's assembly and other types of groups with randomly selected individuals, and also questioning about how fitting this model would be for the work of the committee.
    • Points of agreement
      • The process needs to be transparent.
      • The composition of the group has three sources: the projects, the affiliates, and the Foundation.
      • Regardless of the process, it would be useful to start a call for candidates soon, or name it "expression of interest", of those interested in joining the committee.
    • Points of disagreement
      • How is the process decided?
        • The Movement Charter will describe movement wide decision making processes. Failing a movement charter, we haven't an agreed upon movement wide decision making process. So, we haven't a defined decision making process to agree on a selection method for committee members. Some participants claim extreme form of consensus as decision making: all participants in the conversation should agree, that is each single participant has a veto. Some participants state RfC's are the method of choice. For large group decision making "consent" is a workable form. Consent decision making deals with objections. People can state their opjections to proposals, after which other participants can look for ways to overcome those objections. Sometimes ways split, because some objections are unsurmountable.
        • There was quite a bit of discussion about how to decide the process, but no conclusions.
      • Distribution of seats between projects, affiliates, and Foundation. 33% each? More for the projects? Less for the Foundation?
      • Whether some seats are elected and some are appointed, or all are appointed.
      • How appropriate and feasible it is to organize an election alongside the Board election.
      • Whether Meta-Wiki is an appropriate venue to organize community votes to elect committee members, as suggested in one proposal.
      • Whether to start the call for candidates right away, or start it only when the selection process is known.
  • Some believe that self-nominations, invitations and appointments are the best way to form the team, some believe that it is better to have a majority of seats elected by the communities and the affiliates.
    • Ideas
      • This is a wiki with space for everyone. There is a list where you can add your name to express your interest, and link it to a subpage with your motivation. For example this one.
      • The default for volunteer contributors to online content project wikis (aka users) is to nominate themselves
      • The default for Wikimedia Foundation board members and staff is to use their internal decision making process to appoint a board members and staff members to a committee
      • Affiliated used elections for example in the Affiliate Selected Board Seats process in the past, and might prefer an election to select people for the committee
    • Points of agreement
      • Regardless of the process, there needs to be a place for self-nominations.
      • If there are elections for some seats, appointments can be used to fill gaps in expertise and diversity.
      • The "elections versus appointment" conversation is going on now for six months. Elections take three months from start election committee to publishing results.
    • Points of disagreement
      • How much time should it take to create the committee, whether it is more important to start the drafting sooner or take more time to organize elections.
  • In the case of appointments, some believe the decisions could come from a self-appointed group with participation of the Foundation, some prefer a selection committee that would be elected.
  • In the case of elections, there are different opinions about the distribution of seats elected by communities, elected by affiliates, and appointed by the Foundation.
    • Ideas
      • Elections can play a role in increasing the awareness of the Movement Strategy and the participation of volunteers that disengaged from the process or never participated.
      • Elections will likely result in primarily people representing existing communities, and may not result in adding people with all the skills the committee needs.
      • To run elections, there needs to be a quantity of candidates that justifies them.
    • Points of agreement
      • Elections might add legitmacy to the committee. However, the committee wil not be empowered to decide on a text, as constituents want to ratifify the text before it is coming into effect.
    • Points of disagreement
      • How useful elections are to achieve fair representation, to communicate the Movement Charter widely, and to re/engage volunteers in the Movement Strategy process.
  • Some suggested "sortition" as a method
    • Ideas
    • Points of agreement
      • ....
    • Points of disagreement
      • Sortition is a desperate method
      • The assumption is false, or at least, so far only one person has publicly, here on meta, expressed their interest

3. How much dedication is it reasonable to expect from committee members, in terms of hours per week and months of work?

  • There is broad agreement that committee membership drafting a Charter is serious work, but too demanding requirements are likely to affect the diversity and competence of the team.
    • Ideas
      • Initial guess was 5 hours a week for 6 to 12 months (including financial compensation for those who need it)
      • History tells us that both the texts of the Articles of Federation and the Constitution of the USA were written each by a single person, after which a committee discussed, reviewed and amended the text
      • What is the distribution of time between online meetings, asynchronous work, and in-person events?
      • It is expected that most of time one member or another won't be able to attend meetings, and the work needs to be organized to take this into account.
    • Points of agreement
      • An allowance for committee members.
      • Good thought needs to be put in ways of working that consider working days vs weekends and time zones.
      • Peaks of work are expected, and periods of pause due to holidays etc are expected.
    • Points of disagreement
      • Is it 5 hours each week, or 5 hours on average?
      • Some believe 5 hours a week is too demanding, some believe that in practice members will have to spend more hours.
      • ...
  • The default expectation of committees is that members stay for the entirety of the project and they carry most of the work.
    • Ideas
    • Points of agreement
      • Even if members should ideally stay for the entire period, there should be a replacement mechanism for those that are unable to continue.
    • Points of disagreement
      • ...
  • Some ideas have been suggested to reduce the burden, like rely on professionals for certain tasks, organize volunteer groups to work on certain questions, or include a process for membership renewals.
    • Ideas
      • It would be great if WMF, affiliate staff, or external consultants could support the process by (not limited to):
        • Hosting Global and Local conversations
        • Providing live translation support
        • Translating draft texts
        • (External) consultants holding in depth interviews with major stakeholders, and perform a stakeholder analysis
      • Someone suggested to split the drafting of the Movement Charter in multiple sections, and have a subcommittee or working group draft a section of the charter
    • Points of agreement
      • Committee members that happen to be paid staff of affiliates or the Foundation should not be expected to take organizational work (i.e. taking notes during meetings); that work should be covered by support staff.
    • Points of disagreement
      • ...