Establish a Movement Charter


Q 1 What is your Recommendation?


To establish a framework for decision-making, there will be a charter of principles, values, and governance behaviours. The charter will be developed through an equitable process with broad and diverse participation.

This charter will be owned by a global governance and accountability body.

The charter should cover the following aspects:

  • Our vision: “Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That’s our commitment.”
  • The essence of the strategic direction (equity and knowledge as a service)
  • The Wikimedia movement is based on online communities that collect and sort information, thereby creating knowledge and allowing others to access this knowledge, as Open Content and free of charge.
  • Wikimedia is an open international movement of volunteers and paid staff organised both formally and informally. We call on others who share our values to partner with us and join in this effort and add to the body of Open Knowledge.
  • All activities within the Wikimedia Movement support our primary purpose: free knowledge and its distribution.
  • The charter will also cover the key principles of our movement structure such as self-management, subsidiarity, and decentralization. The details will be covered in a separate document.
  • The charter will also cover the general principles from guiding documents mentioned in other Working Groups’ recommendations, but not contain them as a whole. For example, the charter will not contain the entire Code of Conduct recommended by the Community Health Working Group, but it will have a statement that echoes its spirit. Similarly, the charter will not contain the ‘rules of engagement’ proposed by the Advocacy Working Group, but it will contain a statement about the Wikimedia Movement engaging in advocacy.

Q 2-1 What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make this Recommendation?


As an ‘infrastructure’ organisation, Wikimedia will want diverse organisations to join it, or diverse organisations will want to be a part of Wikimedia. This requires a shared understanding of what Wikimedia is and stands for (and what it isn’t).

Q 2-2 What is your thinking and logic behind this recommendation?


Our vision is a movement in which decision making powers are distributed, and solutions to common challenges might look substantially different in various parts of the world, depending on the local context. We also hope to see many new faces and hear new voices in these decision making processes. In order to make this work, it is important to have a clear understanding of our common purpose, principles, and values, and how we all want to work together beyond our individual contexts, including when decisions are made and when people exercise power.

That common understanding needs to be created and documented - hence the “charter”. We believe it will manage expectations among existing stakeholders as well as with new stakeholders to provide orientation and a sense of belonging and togetherness.

We believe that the creation and maintenance of the charter will be a complex process. To help ensure the charter has wide acceptance and helps achieve the goal of knowledge equity, the group facilitating the development of the charter must reflect the diversity of the global Wikimedia movement and the communities we wish to work with.

Q 3-1 What will change because of the Recommendation?


Our current structure makes it difficult to work on common challenges or making decisions on where to go: The Wikimedia Foundation does not represent the online communities, affiliates are not congruent with the communities they serve etc. A common charter would be a document that defines the Wikimedia movement and unites all those who identify with it, beyond the Wikimedia Foundation’s current vision and mission. It would also provide a clear orientation for newcomers, partners etc. end enable diverse groups and organisations to join or adhere to the Wikimedia movement.

Q 3-2 Who specifically will be influenced by this recommendation?


The charter will affect both offline and online communities including individual participants, WMF, existing affiliates and other formal and informal groups, as well as external partners.

Examples for organisations who might want to or who we might want to invite to sign on to the charter: Creative Commons, Mozilla, Open Knowledge Foundation, Wiki Education Foundation, Whose Knowledge?

Q 4-1 Could this Recommendation have a negative impact/change?


There is a risk of some organisations, groups, or communities not buying into the charter. This might lead to fragmentation of the Wikimedia Movement and thus have the opposite of the desired outcome.

Q 4-2 What could be done to mitigate this risk?


Sensible drafting and a clear understanding of the consequences of not buying into the charter. Working with communities and ensuring that they are represented in the design of the charter is essential for all of us to feel a part of it.

Q 5 How does this Recommendation relate to the current structural reality?


Beyond the Wikimedia Foundation’s vision and mission, which only apply to the WMF itself (although they are quoted and restated in many other places), there currently is no such document.

Q 6-1 Does this Recommendation connect or depend on another of your Recommendations? If yes, how?


Allowing for greater autonomy/self-management of movement affiliates requires a common understanding of how we define ourselves (see ‘what we are and what we aren’t’ above).

Q 7 How is this Recommendation connected to other WGs?


Quite a few other WGs recommend different ‘rule sets’ such as the Advocacy (‘rules of engagement’) and Community Health (‘Code of Conduct’) WGs. Some principles from these proposed rule sets might be part of the Charter, or the Charter might give these rule sets legitimacy by referring to them.