Movement Strategy/Events/Movement Charter South Asia conversation, 25 June 2021

Overview and AgendaEdit

The Movement Charter will be a document defining roles and responsibilities for all the members and entities of the Wikimedia Movement, including laying out a new Global Council for movement governance. The Movement Charter is a Movement Strategy priority. A broad ratification process is expected for its adoption. One of the first steps in the process is to constitute a Movement Charter drafting committee. This event is a part of several regional conversations that will lead up to the global conversations on June 26-27. The discussion will mainly be focused on the following questions:

  • What composition should the committee have in terms of movement roles, gender, regions, affiliations and other diversity factors?
  • What is the best process to select the committee members to form a competent and diverse team?
  • How much dedication is it reasonable to expect from committee members, in terms of hours per week and months of work?

DetailsEdit

  • Date: June 25, 2021
  • Timings
  • Bangladesh: 7 pm to 8:30 pm
  • India: 6:30 pm to 8 pm
  • Nepal: 6:45 pm to 8:15 pm
  • Sri Lanka: 6:30 pm to 8 pm

ReportEdit

Question 1Edit

What composition should the committee have in terms of movement roles, gender, regions, affiliations and other diversity factors?
  • Community members felt that diversity is an important factor in a committee such as this, however, they emphasized that capacity should not be compromised for diversity. They felt that it is important to find the right balance, because having people only for the sake of diversity, who don't have the necessary capacity, might not contribute much in the decision-making, which fails of the whole purpose of diversity.
  • They further felt that if people from historically underrepresented groups or regions are brought onto the committee, it should be made sure that everyone is more or less at the same level of skill and knowledge before the committee proceedings start. If needed, some kind of short capacity building program can be envisioned. This is especially required to make sure that people from underrepresented groups or regions do not become victims of groupthink.
  • A volunteer opined that diversity should not only be considered in terms of gender, region etc. but also Wikimedia projects. Historically, Wikipedia has received a lot of resources and support, despite the presence of strong communities in others projects such as Wikimedia Commons, Wikisource, Wikidata, Wikibooks, Wikivoyage etc. For instance, Wikisource rightly fits in the strategic direction of knowledge equity, by resurfacing forgotten texts on the Internet, however, it barely receives any support. The Movement Charter should not only address resource allocation to gender and regions, but also to various Wikimedia projects, for which voices from these projects should be on the committee.
  • Community members were concerned that lack of fluency in English is a problem for people from Global South communities. They suggested several solutions like dedicated interpreters, translators, to make sure that these people do not remain timid to voice their opinion during discussions.
  • A volunteer shared their concern that Movement Strategy has become so huge in terms of its information output that many people falling out of sync with the process and the ongoing updates. Once people become async, there is a feeling among volunteers and affiliates that they don't have a place or might not be relevant in further discussions or any such committees. With the amount of information that is being generated each week, "many of us" are finding it hard to catch up, and it is rather intimidating to participate in further conversations. The community suggested two things in this regard:
  • It was suggested that during the call for committee members, proactive effort should be taken to communicate that it is "okay" to participate in the committee, even if they are not previously involved with the Movement Strategy. These people can be provided onboarding support.
  • It would be great of Movement Strategy / Governance refresher workshops in different regions for every quarter or at least six months, presenting an overview of what happened and what's coming. This is can be a chance for community members to get into the loop and feel connected with the process again.

Question 2Edit

What is the best process to select the committee members to form a competent and diverse team?
  • Community members felt that elections aren't the best way for such a committee. They felt that even though elections are good in principle, the amount of work it takes to organize, might not be worthwhile, and other options should be explored.
  • A volunteer suggested to have a process where self-nominations and community nominations can be accepted, and with the help of existing volunteer and staff structures such as the Board, the Elections Committee, former Strategy Working Groups etc. individuals can be drawn out based on expertise and background. After an intial cohort has been formed, a skills and needs assements should be done to find out of the gaps. The initial cohort should be empowered with necessary staff support to search for people from within and outside the Wikimedia movement and co-opt them as committee members. This co-opting process should not only be used for expertise, but also for diversity.
  • Communtiy members also felt that the committee should be able to contract paid consultants on ad-hoc basis to fill any gap that volunteers are not able to fill.

Question 3Edit

How much dedication is it reasonable to expect from committee members, in terms of hours per week and months of work?
  • A volunteer felt that five hours per week is a reasonable expectation.
  • Communtiy members felt that it should be made sure that people who have expressed their should actually have the time required. They concerned that even though many volunteers would be interested in doing such work, they don't have the time and/or bandwidth to fully participate in the process. However, owing to enthusiam and hoping to squeeze time later on, they sign-up and even get selected. Given the importance of this work, for someone, who has a lot of commitments already, this won't be ideal.
  • A volunteer suggested that committee members should be surveyed to know about how much time they reasonbly commit without compromising the quality of their participation. If someone is able to contribute to more, the potential should be used to its best by offering a honorarim or stipend for their "extra" time. However, this has to be done after verification of their existing committements.

MiscellaneousEdit

  • A volunteer concerned that committe members sometimes take emotional decisions rather than rational decisions, and there should be a decision-making protocol within the committee. They also felt that committee should have a non-disclosure agreement, conflict of interest policy, among other things, before they get started, to avoid problems at a later stage.