Talk:Movement Charter/Content/Hubs

Latest comment: 8 months ago by Philip Kopetzky in topic Hub responsibilities

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Invitation for feedback

Hello everyone, 

We are happy to share an important update regarding the drafts for the Wikimedia Movement Charter. Two weeks ago we released the Global Council draft for your review and feedback, now we are announcing that the Hubs draft and the Glossary is also open for your input. 

The Movement Charter Drafting Committee (MCDC) has put in significant effort to develop these drafts, and we now need your valuable feedback to help refine them further. Your feedback is crucial in shaping the future of the Wikimedia movement, and we encourage you to participate.

You can provide feedback by engaging in discussions on Meta and joining upcoming community conversations by September 1, 2023. 

We are hosting a live call on July 30 at 14.00 UTC, where you can engage with us. Please register here to join us on Zoom, or set a reminder on the Wikimedia Foundation YouTube channel for a livestream of the call!  Your active participation is highly valued as we work together to shape the future of our Movement. 

We thank you for your active participation and ongoing support. 

On behalf of the Movement Charter Drafting Committee,
Ciell (talk) 15:38, 27 July 2023 (UTC)

Thanks for all your work on the Charter! Having seen an earlier version of this draft, it's clear that the MCDC takes feedback seriously and has put in a lot of work to update the text in response to it, which is very heartening to see.
I have issues with some parts of the text but overall I think this is a quite well written and valuable document. As anyone who has participated in the 2030 strategy process can attest, collaborative policymaking by a diverse group of individuals is hard; doing it on volunteer time and largely relying on online communication is extremely hard; and with the strategy process getting into increasingly later and higher-stake stages, it only gets harder. Thank you all for stepping up to do that hard work! Tgr (talk) 17:29, 6 August 2023 (UTC)

Open question from the draft chapter

Membership and composition

There is one open question from the MCDC to the Wikimedia communities, which is from the membership and composition section of the draft:

Should there be a limit to how many hubs an affiliate can join? (Please elaborate on your answer.)

Yes, an Affiliate should only be allowed to join a limited number of hubs, because…
  • Members of a hub will play an important role in the governance of said hub. It is undesirable that one Affiliate has more influence in the movement because they are a member of more hubs than others are.
  • Seeing some affiliates participating in a large number of hubs may create a perception that other hubs should be doing the same thing, even though they may not have comparable resources.
No, Affiliates should be free to decide on the number of Hubs they join, because…
  • In the near future there will be both Thematic and Regional hubs, and most Affiliates work on more than one theme, and sometimes in more than one region.
  • The affiliates with more experience or resources can more easily share those with other affiliates through multiple hubs if they are not limited in their hub memberships.

Please add your answers/questions/thoughts below. Thank you! RamzyM (WMF) (talk) 13:57, 26 July 2023 (UTC)

At this early stage, I believe we should not state anything. When the hub been live a few years we can look into this issue again, when we know if there is any problem related to this question. And to start limiting could mean we miss a productive way of working . Anders Wennersten (talk) 16:08, 26 July 2023 (UTC)
Thanks for your comment, Anders Wennersten. Part of the theory behind the charter is to (a) address known issues and (b) avoid comparable problems in the future. At the same time, the charter should not be the only method of addressing some of these issues. For example, it is proposed that hubs report to the Global Council, most likely through a committee comparable to the current Affiliation Committee. Both the Global Council and the "hubs committee" would be in a position to create rules about hub membership, in theory. Do you feel that would be sufficient to address this issue? (And yes, it's an issue that has already been raised in some regions.) I would look forward to your thoughts, and the thoughts of others, on this point. Risker (talk) 05:00, 28 July 2023 (UTC)
Yes, that is my thought, that there will exist bodies that approve hubs and follow up on these. And that this (these) bodies can create best practice in issues like this. My concrete example is WMSE. I expect WMSE to be part of hub Europe and that they will be hub host for a GLAM hub. But they would also be interested to join a hub (hosted by WMNO) on the Sami language (WMNO, WMSE and WMFI). IF something should be written, it could be a limitation being hubhost Anders Wennersten (talk) 05:21, 28 July 2023 (UTC)
I agree with Anders that it's best not to decide this in the Charter either way (I wrote about that in more detail in #Internal structure of hubs). I also think we'll probably end up with more complex rules (possibly ones that aren't easy to formally specify and will be more praxis than written rules) because on the one hand large affiliates like Wikimedia Germany could productively participate in a large number of hubs at the same time, but on the other hand tiny affiliates joining lots of different hubs and ending up with an oversized influence is a legitimate concern, so I don't think there's a simple yes/no answer here. It's probably best to leave it to the Global Council and its committees to figure this out over time. Tgr (talk) 08:16, 6 August 2023 (UTC)

General discussion

Impact of Hubs for funding

What does this proposal mean for affiliates who are not a part of any hub? Does this put them at some kind of disadvantage when it comes to funding, for instance? Barkeep49 (talk) 16:09, 31 July 2023 (UTC)
Hi @Barkeep49, thanks for your question. Membership of a hub would not be mandatory and will not directly impact the funds that an affiliate receives. However, I can imagine a funds committee pointing out to an affiliate when there is duplicate of work between what the affiliate intends to do and a Hub does (is proposing to do), and where they both can join forces. That is, in essence, the "mutual support" that the hubs can provide in: to work in coordination and alongside each other (in a region, on a topic, in a language) when it comes to bigger projects or topics. Ciell (talk) 11:38, 3 August 2023 (UTC)

Difference between Thematic Hubs and Thematic Organisations

It would be great to get an explanation as to how these two organisational forms differ, considering that the purpose of both is very similar if not identical. Braveheart (talk) 14:54, 31 July 2023 (UTC)

Hello, Braveheart. Thanks for letting us know that we have some work to do in explaining the difference. The definition of a thematic organization is present in the current draft glossary, but it may be worth putting a footnote into the hubs section as well.

The key difference is that a Thematic Organization is an "incorporated independent non-profit representing the Wikimedia movement and supporting work focused on a specific theme, topic, subject or issue within or across countries and regions." The key here is that it MUST be an incorporated and independent non-profit; this isn't optional. It is also a single organization, not a group of organizations. A Thematic Hub MUST have a minimum of two accredited Wikimedia affiliates as founding members, and it is NOT required to be an incorporated non-profit.

Would this explanation clarify things better? Risker (talk) 05:44, 2 August 2023 (UTC)

@Risker: That is the current status, yes - but are you saying that the current affiliate structure with the same requirements will stay the same? Why not clean up some of the historical mistakes and develop a new affiliate structure that removes the differences between a thematic organisation and a thematic hub? Braveheart (talk) 12:13, 2 August 2023 (UTC)
I think that it is indeed important to clean up the historical mistakes. Thematic organizations are nothing else than User Groups with a theme. Chapters are nothing else than user groups with a regional scope. + of course the legal entity, which is not precluded by the definition of user groups and in practice happens already. In any case, I do think the difference between a thematic hub and a thematic organization is super clear: what Risker said, ie. one org vs a group of orgs/organized groups. notafish }<';> 17:05, 3 August 2023 (UTC)
Let me try to understand that: Hubs are the introduction of some kind of matrix structure? New entities at the knots of a mesh out of regional entities in one direction and thematic entities in a different dimension? Will hubs always have members from both the geographic and the thematic dimension or are there others? And can we please have an (hypothetical) example? I don't think I understand what hubs really are good for that can't be done already. --h-stt !? 17:31, 3 August 2023 (UTC)
H-stt I'm not sure I understand your question here: "New entities at the knots of a mesh out of regional entities in one direction and thematic entities in a different dimension?". But Hubs are not supposed to be governing bodies of any kind. As I understand them, they are the material a mesh is made of that allows existing user groups/chapters/communities to work better together, receive support in areas where an organization alone does not have the capacity to do things alone, a place where people can find peers to hack out problems together etc. This can be done without a hub in some circumstances, but often the hub will provide staff support for example where a single affiliate would not have the means to have that support, be it full time or part time. We don't need a hypothetical example, we already have the CEE Hub which has identified areas of support for the region, and is able to work with user groups/chapters/communities in those areas. There are two staff people which no entity by itself could afford to manage. Does that help? notafish }<';> 14:57, 4 August 2023 (UTC)
@Notafish Thanks, the CEE example helps a lot. So hubs can provide a "higher" level of cooperation for regional entities. I had assumed that hubs would be "lower" in a tree structure than existing organizations, closer to individual persons. Of course I'm spoiled by coming from deWP, being used to WMDE and writing from WikiMUC at this very moment. h-stt !? 15:08, 4 August 2023 (UTC)
I think it's actually both higher and lower, if that makes any sense. I think that it's lower in that it can bring support to individual members of some communities and higher in that it integrates also a level of support that brings entities together that might not otherwise have the capacity to manage joint projects. Such things as "CEE Spring" campaigns that involve a lot of people at all levels, or for example support for one person in a community wanting to approach GLAMs and needing ideas/templates/user stories that the hub can provide. notafish }<';> 22:37, 4 August 2023 (UTC)
@H-stt I think the name refers to the spoke–hub distribution paradigm; the spokes would be the smaller units of organizations we already have (chapters, user groups, wikis). Hubs/Ongoing#Ongoing hub projects might give you an idea of the intended granularity. Tgr (talk) 07:08, 6 August 2023 (UTC)

Hubs as zero-impact organizations

From community conversations that I have joined, I understood the major difference between hubs and the existing Wikimedia Movement Affiliates to be that hubs are zero-impact organizations which only serve administrative roles.

Briefly, the Wikimedia Foundation asks that Wikimedia Movement Affiliates report "impact metrics", perhaps best documented at Learning and Evaluation/Global metrics. I will repeat these here as out-of-scope activities for hubs.

  1. Number of active editors involved
  2. Number of new registered users
  3. Number of individuals involved
  4. Number of new images/media added to Wikimedia article pages
  5. Number of articles added or improved on Wikimedia projects
  6. Number of bytes added to and/or deleted from Wikimedia projects
  7. Learning question: Did your work increase the motivation of contributors, and how do you know?

As I understand, hubs will do none of these things. Instead, hubs serve whatever administrative roles are necessary to support Wikimedia Movement Affiliates in doing these things. The section Movement_Charter/Content/Hubs#Responsibilities lists "must, should, could" activities. In my view, none of those are directly the impact metrics, but all of those functions indirectly support wiki organizations in doing those things.

Does anyone disagree with my interpretation? Speak up if you do. Bluerasberry (talk) 16:15, 2 August 2023 (UTC)

Hi @Bluerasberry, thank you for this question. I think you are correct in that Hubs will require different metrics than the ones you mention in the list. This however goes very much into the level of policy, and policies need to be changeable, to fit the movement's annual and multiyear plans. The Movement Charter, because of the whole process of drafting and ratification behind it, will not be flexible enough: we don't want to have to go through the whole process just because a metric standard for Hubs needs to be changed, right?
But yes, in fact you are correct, and it will be up to the future Global Council (or a committee thereof - HubCom?) to decide on the reporting policy for Hubs and the metrics for this new form of entity in our movement. Ciell (talk) 08:46, 4 August 2023 (UTC)

Propose that hubs must support annual reporting

I think the hubs definition should include a mandate to support Wikimedia Movement Affiliates with completing their annual reports, which come through bureaucratic forms at Wikimedia Affiliates Data Portal.

Annual reporting is the one existential requirement for sustaining good standing as a Wikimedia Movement Affiliate. Over the years various Wikimedia community groups have taken accusations of being insane, fraudulent, ineffective, violent, misguided, bad faith, or have any other flaw and still have "good standing", but the only certain way to get expelled from official status as Wikimedia movement affiliates is to fail to submit the annual report at Wikimedia Affiliates Data Portal. In the cases where affiliates have lost standing, so far as I know it has always been either because they failed to submit an annual report, or because in the process of completing their annual report somehow they got in a dispute about what they reported. Because submitting the report is the only existential requirement of a group, filling out the report is by far the most important thing groups have to do. So far as I know, all Wikimedia Movement Affiliates say that completing the report is stressful, confusing, happens without training, and is high stakes. More than any other factor, that report determines how much money anyone gets from from the Wikimedia Movement funds.

I think that because the report is so important, the definition of a hub should include a mandate to support all member Wikimedia Affiliates in submitting high quality reports. Hub staff should get training to support others in completing those reports, and hubs should be a peer-to-peer community advocate for Wikimedia Movement Affiliates submitting their reports to the Wikimedia Foundation. I would like for any organization who gets a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation to have access to a hub which will support them in completing their WMF reports.

The annual reports are the least supported link in the process chain of Wikimedia donors -> Wikimedia Foundation -> grants -> grant recipients -> annual reports -> determination of impact -> continued grant funding. Getting better annual reports is our best hope of getting community feedback at scale when globally sharing Wikimedia Movement funds. Bluerasberry (talk) 16:37, 2 August 2023 (UTC)

I support a requirement to create a report about the activities of a hub.--Hogü-456 (talk) 20:03, 3 August 2023 (UTC)
Hi @Bluerasberry, @Hogü-456,
While I agree that we need reports from Hubs, in-line with my response on the topic above, I would be hesitant to include this in the text in the Movement Charter. The drafting group has spoken about this and decided to not include it, because we think it is best to leave this kind of policy level detail to the accountable body. Because maybe, we would for instance like to have a half year report for the first two years. Or a quarterly, as we did with chapters as well for many years. Annual and multi-year grants at the moment require a final report after a year, but also a mid-point report, though that is now in the process of being changed into a mid-point conversation with the WMF program officer. Only to show how our reporting guidelines are subject to change, and the Charter might not be the best place to prescribe them.
And yes, we think Hubs can help with writing applications and reports: this fits into the "...for example on capacity building and knowledge transfer" mentioned level of support in the Hubs definition and purpose, as long as there is not a conflict of interest (if they for instance also already have the role of fiscal sponsor or grant-giver for the grant that is reported on (Conflict of Interest, bullet point nr. 2).) Ciell (talk) 09:08, 4 August 2023 (UTC)

Hubs topic summary from 30 July call

Participants of the July 30 launch party share the following thoughts about the Hubs (YouTube stream recording):

  • There is a broad agreement that there should be no limit imposed on how many Hubs a Wikimedia Affiliate could join.
  • A proposed clarification was raised to the MCDC on whether all Wikimedia Affiliates, including those that are inactive, could become a founding entity of a Hub (currently two Affiliates are proposed as the requirement to launch a Hub).

-- RamzyM (WMF) (talk) 22:42, 3 August 2023 (UTC)

Internal structure of hubs

The draft posits a number of requirements for the internal structure of hubs:

  • A hub requires a minimum of two Wikimedia affiliates as founding members
  • Wikimedia Affiliates can be members of more than one hub
  • Individuals cannot become a member of a hub, but can receive support from a hub
  • The Hub Host cannot be the host for more than one hub.

I don't think this is a good idea, not necessarily because these are bad rules, but because it is too early for us to be deciding such details. The Movement Charter is the constitutional document of the movement; to have legitimacy, it will have to come with a ratification process, both for the initial version and for later amendments, that requires a high level of consensus. This also means that the amendment process will be costly in terms of both movement resources and volunteer time. We should be careful to minimize the number of details that require a Charter amendment to change.

The Charter will have to specify in detail how its own ratification and amendment process works, who interprets and enforces the Charter, where the highest institutional powers within the movement reside, and how that body is elected and operated. The fundamental nature of these questions means it's not possible to delegate them to a lower-level policy, and they need to be agreed upon with the same level of legitimacy as the Charter itself. But everything else can and should be delegated and only included in the Charter at the level of principles.

This is especially true of hubs which are a new concept (technically we don't even have any hubs at this point, only hub pilots, and not many of those either); we have very limited experience in what works (and what works in some places but not others), or what needs and local constraints hubs need to meet. So the MCDC is not in a good position to predict what will be the ideal rules for hubs; if it tries to do so anyway, we might end with rules which are not optimal but too costly to change. I think the correct position to take here is that the Global Council (or some body the Council delegates this responsibility to) should develop a hub recognition policy that includes details like who are the members of a hub; if the policy turns out to be less than ideal, it can be changed with the much more practical and less costly decisionmaking process of the Global Council, instead of a Charter amendment.

(To give just one specific example: a hub whose members are affiliates vs. a hub whose members are individuals would be implemented by fairly different legal structures, one or the other of which can be more advantageous in a given jurisdiction. In some jurisdictions, a hub whose members are affiliates might only be feasible when those affiliates are themselves formally registered organizations, which can be a significant barrier to entry, and might even lead to safety concerns in unfriendly regimes. More generally, I think this requirement pushes hubs to be support structures primarily for affiliates, as opposed to e.g. editor communities, which I don't think we should insist on.) Tgr (talk) 07:12, 6 August 2023 (UTC)

This also goes for the Should and Could sections; I think those are good ideas and should probably be in the hub recognition and oversight policy that the Global Council will create and oversee; but I don't think they belong to the Charter.
(With the possible exception of These structures will work toward standards of diversity, inclusion, accountability, and equity in decision-making as per the Movement Charter which is an important high-level principle that does not go into unnecessary detail; that does belong to the Charter, but it basically just repeats what's already stated by the last sentence of Set-up and governance process.) Tgr (talk) 07:14, 6 August 2023 (UTC)
Just to disclose where I am coming from: the current plan for the CEE Hub pilot, which I'm involved with, is to set it up as a group of linguistic communities, not a group of affiliates. I think an affiliate-based structure would limit equity in our region, where there are lots of small linguistic communities who have their own Wikimedia projects but do not have the capacity to operate affiliates. Tgr (talk) 08:08, 6 August 2023 (UTC)
I agree with Tgr about the limitation to affiliates, I do think hub have a role to play in being a playground for yet unorganized communities. I am more agnostic on the should/could otherwise. I think some of the requirements make sense. notafish }<';> 16:56, 8 August 2023 (UTC)
The movement charter drafts and this feedback have been discussed within the Steering committee and the wider group of the Wikimedia CEE Hub and we support the feedback published here by Tgr. Philip Kopetzky (talk) 16:03, 23 September 2023 (UTC)

Hub responsibilities

Comparing the core responsibilities listed in the Must section to the ones in the recommendation, two are notably absent:

  • Providing legal support to community members and organizations, and evaluating safety and security guidelines and procedures adapted to local contexts;
  • Developing appropriate technologies to better serve communities.

Is there a reason for that? They seem like reasonable responsibilities around which hubs could be built. Given that nearly half of all movement funds is spent on software development, excluding the second one seems especially limiting. Tgr (talk) 07:18, 6 August 2023 (UTC)

The movement charter drafts and this feedback have been discussed within the Steering committee and the wider group of the Wikimedia CEE Hub and we support the feedback published here by Tgr. Philip Kopetzky (talk) 16:08, 23 September 2023 (UTC)

Fundraising and Funds Dissemination

I'm not sure how to interpret this:

  • Regional hubs may fundraise locally.
  • Thematic hubs can apply for or receive grants, and they can support others in managing their grants (Fiscal Sponsorship).

Does it imply that regional hubs can't apply for grants, and thematic hubs can't fundraise locally (ie. in the country where they are registered)? Those are both meaningful activities: some grants have a regional focus (EU funding most notably) and regional hubs seem like the perfect candidates for such grants; there is no reason a donor interested in some specific topic shouldn't be able to donate to the relevant hub if that hub happens to be local for tax purposes (maybe even if it isn't, if that makes the donor more willing to donate - the WMF also collects donations in areas where it isn't registered). Tgr (talk) 07:19, 6 August 2023 (UTC)

Ha! I came to say exactly the same thing. This fundraising bit is very unclear to me. notafish }<';> 16:57, 8 August 2023 (UTC)

Hubs involved in funds dissemination need to coordinate with regional fund committees.

This is a good principle but it would be better to avoid unnecessary detail (for the reasons I mentioned above) and say something like "need to coordinate with other fund dissemination bodies". Regional committees is a relatively recent structure, maybe it will not work out well or we'll want to experiment with alternatives (e.g. thematic committees, which would be more relevant for thematic hubs). Tgr (talk) 07:19, 6 August 2023 (UTC)

Highly supportive of this draft

MCDC members, thank you for this well thought out draft! I have read it several times now and I strongly agree with the draft. The must/should/could responsibilities are exactly in line with how I have been envisioning hubs and the role they will play moving forward in the movement. I believe it's critically important to enable hubs to fundraise for their own activities, so thank you for including that as well. I also like that Hub Hosts can only host one hub; I think that sets the right exceptions in terms of power dynamics.

One concern I've had about hubs is that they end up being a level of bureaucracy that exists between the Wikimedia Foundation or the General Council and the affiliates themselves. (As in, WMF or the GC would only speak to hubs in the future, rather than directly to affiliates.) It feels like that is less of a concern based on this draft (hubs don't vote for GC), so thank you for that. I hope that affiliates still continue to have direct connections to WMF and the GC themselves, rather than those relationships being mediated through hubs.

In response to your one question: I strongly believe affiliates should be able to be members of more than one thematic hub (most affiliates work in numerous thematic/programmatic areas). I have less of a strong feeling about the regional one; I think this depends on if you're going to set regional hubs up to ALSO host the current regional grant committees (I'm guessing this will be clearer in the forthcoming roles & responsibilities chapter?). If so, then I think it makes sense to limit participation to one regional hub so affiliates don't try to "grant shop" among different regional funding committees; but otherwise, I don't see the harm in affiliates getting support from multiple regional hubs if that makes sense for them.

Things I think are missing here:

  • I would generally support a higher number than two affiliates as the founding members. I think hubs need to have significant community support, and there are so many user groups that 2 seems like a really low threshold. I'm not sure what the right number is, but maybe more like 5 or even 10 for thematic hubs? We don't want to set up situations where there are competing hubs within thematics or regions, which seems like it could happen with only two required.
  • I would like to see a specific role in the relationship section that WMF or the General Council should play a lead role in leading coordination *among* hubs. Right now, that's just established as a "should" ("Hubs should collaborate with other Wikimedia organizations, including other hubs"), but ensuring each hub isn't just recreating a wheel takes purposeful coordination. This centralized coordination support is the exact kind of role I hope to see WMF play in the future, helping ensure hubs are learning from each other.

Overall, this draft is excellent, and I'd like to thank the MCDC again for all their hard work! Liannadavis (talk) 15:41, 6 August 2023 (UTC)

Complexity of scaling, existing examples, and other notes

Hi folks, thanks for the very interesting details. I have a few thoughts and semi-rhetorical questions.

  1. Two of the overall goals seems to be: To get people to document (and maintain/share/distribute) knowledge more efficiently/effectively/frequently (and without (further) mass-duplication/fragmentation); and to provide more formal/active/reliable communication channels for finding help.
    • Is that accurate? If so, I wonder if there might be any simpler methods to achieve some of this, without creating potentially-dozens of new Hubs and new bureaucratic structures?
    • I.e. I worry how much we might be adding to the documentation/red-tape/fragmentation overload. Or in other words, "Will it scale?"
  2. How do the Volunteer Supporters Network and Let's Connect fit in? They seem to be (or aim to be) addressing a lot of this problem already. Could/should those, and the CEE/ESEAP Hubs, be mentioned directly in the draft?
  3. For the Needs related to "Knowledge", especially reinventing wheels, is there a listing of the existing resources that might be considered "good models we should revitalize and expand, or overhaul"? Or would that be a good list to create and link here?
  4. I suggest a core principle of any outputs should be:
    • Strong emphasis on using/adapting existing resources (chat platforms, wikipages, etc) instead of creating anything new. E.g. No new wikis. (cf. Outreachwiki and Affiliate wikis have low-discoverability and are unlikely to ever gain critical-mass).

I hope these notes help! I apologize for any answers I missed in the docs, and any over-simplifications or assumptions I've all-too-briefly described, and for raising multiple issues in one post (refactor freely, if needed!). Quiddity (talk) 16:55, 7 August 2023 (UTC)

Founding members

I think the criterion that a hub requires at least two Wikimedia affiliates lacks a diversity component and needs to be better elaborated. There are cases in which multiple affiliates serve a single community in one country. It is perhaps better to require Wikimedia affiliates from at least two language communities or countries.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 23:22, 7 August 2023 (UTC)

Comments from The Land


Thank you MCDC for this document. There are a lot of helpful things in this and this section of the proposal is in a better state than the Global Council or Roles and Responsibilities documents. I like the 'must', 'could', 'should' framework, which could also be applied in other parts of the MCDC drafting (e.g. Roles and Responsibilities) and there are many areas where this document contains thoughtful details. My main questions and observations are:

  • you have not mentioned any role for hubs in governance or representation. Was this considered? If so why have you opted for hubs not to have this role?
  • "two affiliates" as the minimum membership level is not adequate in my view. I'm not sure what the minimum threshold should be, and it may differ according to context, but it needs evidence of substantial support in the relevant community. Given our current affiliate structure it is possible for about 10 people to meet the criteria to form two User Groups, and then it would be possible to set up a hub. Presumably that's not intentional - a Hub should be a significant body not a trivial one.
  • Funding and funds dissemination. What does "a regional hub can fundraise locally" mean? There are many forms of fundraising (e.g. from the Wikimedia banners; from individuals other than through the Wikimedia banners; from grantmaking bodies; from governments). Is it expected that a regional hub would do all of these? Would it do them exclusively? How would fundraising work in conjunction with the WMF/affiliates? Are thematic hubs expected only to receive Wikimedia movement grants, or can they apply for grants from other organisations? Do you see Hubs taking on the role currently played by the WMF's grant committee?
  • "Hubs do not have voting rights as affiliates do" - This seem to contain an assumption that affiliates are the right way to provide representation, based on how things are at the moment. Has the MCDC considered whether Hubs might do a better job of this?

Many thanks, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 13:02, 13 August 2023 (UTC)

Comments from Wikimedia Deutschland

Thank you for the Movement Charter section on hubs. It is well thought through and clearly written. WMDE agrees with most of the thoughts around accountability and purpose – for now.

From our perspective, the section shows too much anticipatory planning for hubs. Hubs are barely getting started in several areas, with much diversity in purposes and structure. Therefore we would re-emphasize what we stated in our response to the Global Council section: The well-worked out details regulating hubs are better placed in a policy than in the charter.

This would also be in compliance with Recommendation 10, Evaluate, Iterate and Adapt: If written in a policy, the current, very early thoughts on hubs can be adapted as Wikimedians innovate and iterate this new organizational form. In compliance with the principle of subsidiarity and self-management, each hub should have maximum “leeway” to find new ways to strengthen our movement, its communities and its affiliates. As a movement we are just starting to learn about the potential of decentralization and regionalization. Let’s not suffocate all the social creativity and collaborative energy  with rules and regulations.

Rather than over-regulating hubs in this early stage, WMDE believes that allocating resources for this new type of affiliate is crucial at this stage: Financial resources, capacity building tools, a robust evaluation, and ways for hubs to interact and exchange knowledge. (This of course is outside of the realm of the charter.)

What should be in the charter on hubs, then? Hubs should be listed as a type of Wikimedia organization that has the purpose of fostering collaboration, coordination, mutual support and resource development/sharing for affiliates, that is accountable to its members and regulated by the global council.

A few thoughts on specific provisions (in what WMDE thinks of as a policy):

  • The standing committee of the Global Council entrusted with policy making as well as recognition and derecognition of hubs should be the same committee that oversees the other affiliates. A thorough understanding of the affiliate landscape in a given region will be the basis for assisting with the strategic development of hubs.
  • The minimum number of affiliates to form a hub should still be discussed, and maybe left open until we learn more. A minimum of two seems low and might have the potential to proliferate unsustainable mini-hubs with not enough purpose or backing. However, it might be a good idea to have contextualized criteria here rather than a globally applied number.
  • The concept of hub host as a fiscal sponsor is helpful to start a hub. It takes time to find a joint vision and purpose, and it is better not to have to focus on governance details and incorporation right away. However, learnings on backbone organizations in collective impact, as well as the experience with the WMF, show that putting more power where it already exists is not always the most equitable nor efficient way, but that shared leadership and ownership among members is a crucial condition for survival and impact. Also fiscal sponsorship is a high-risk engagement for the sponsor. Therefore, organizational capacity building to “wean off” hubs from the fiscal sponsors after a reasonable amount of time would be recommended, also aligned with the spirit of decentralization, sound governance and self-management.
  • Focus of hubs: The concept of hubs was simultaneously born in several of the working groups in Phase 2 of the 2030 Movement Strategy process. It was then reduced to regional and “thematic” hubs. “Thematic” should be understood to include what can be considered “functional", in other words, global, partially centralized functions for the movement, that need not necessarily be located with the WMF or the Global Council/General Assembly entity. For example, hubs focusing on capacity building, knowledge management or evaluation – which are all functions called for by movement strategy recommendations that have not found a “home” yet.
  • Fund development and distribution: This will be a major focus of hubs, so we commend that the draft acknowledges this fact. Hubs will feature strongly in a movement with decentralized fundraising as envisioned by Movement Strategy.  Hubs can serve as crucial subcenters, where local fundraising capacity does not exist or where it makes no sense to build it. All fundraising entities in the movement should comply with the same fundraising policy to be developed, which should include the responsibility to coordinate with each other. The draft language could benefit from some clarification. Fundraising “locally” could be improved and simplified: “Regional and Thematic hubs may raise funds for their respective regions and purposes, according to the Fundraising Policy.” Thank you, Nicola Zeuner (WMDE) (talk) 11:19, 17 August 2023 (UTC)

Comments from Wikimedia Sverige

This is a response based on the internal feedback from board members and staff at Wikimedia Sverige.

Wikimedia Sverige has been involved in the work with multiple different hub pilot initiatives, with the pilot Content Partnerships Hub (often referred to as the GLAM hub) as a key initiative. To date we have focused our efforts on developing possible areas that a thematic hub could contribute to and how hubs can coordinate and engage with each other. Our hope has been that the work can showcase what could and should be possible.

The pilot Content Partnerships Hub now has a number of ambitious concepts developed, that are based on needs assessments conducted, and is about to change the focus to the governance efforts needed to ensure equitable decision making for the hub. We hope to closely engage with the MCDC in this next step of the work.

General feedback

Overall we look very positively at the draft and appreciate an opportunity to comment on concrete ideas and suggestions. It is clear that a lot of energy has been put into the work, especially on clarifying that hubs are their own entities, separate from the decision structures at the WMF.

Our main objection to the text as it stands is that it is too detailed to fit such a foundational document as the Movement Charter. With such a detailed foundational document, we will not be able to “Evaluate, Iterate and Adapt” (referring to Strategic Recommendation number 10), since the charter is not intended to be updated regularly. Instead we believe a lot of the details should exist at the policy level where the Global Council (or some structure appointed by them) can update and adapt them as the movement learns what works. The framework we put into place must be open to changes if we expect it to stay relevant as we move into the future, and unforeseen developments and opportunities arise.

In practical terms, since any hub needs to be recommended by AffCom (per Global Council draft) before being recognized, the details could work as a (public) instruction letter to AffCom. As such the Global Council could easily revise the instructions in the future. In the hub section of the Movement Charter itself the focus should be on setting out the purpose and basic shape of the hub structure to ensure that hubs are tools for reaching (and then maintaining) the 2030 goals; tying this to the Strategic Recommendations and pointing out the roles of hubs in ensuring equity and opening up for new forms of collaboration and engagement; and explaining how the hubs fit into the other structures being described in the Movement Charter.

Some of the form restrictions which we still see as foundational enough to be included in the Movement Charter document are: That there are only two types of hubs, the relationship with the Global Council and WMF, that each hub need foundational documents explaining how they intend to ensure equity in decision making and that each hub needs a clear purpose and goal – both the thematic and the regional ones.

In some cases it is clear that the rules proposed in the draft are formulated with some of the current hub embryos in mind. Reviewing current experiments is something we strongly encourage and hope that you will continue to do. However, we believe that there is a risk in adding too many strict limitations in the Movement Charter, as it could lock down hubs to the shapes seen in these embryos. Instead we would like to see an approach focusing on the opportunities that hubs can offer and developing the rules based on ensuring these, and on encouraging a diversity among hubs. This might lead to hub structures we have not yet even discovered.

Funding is the one area where we felt the current draft proposal did not provide any information. While phrasing around funding doesn’t necessarily fit in the Movement Charter text it is central to the larger framework of interdependencies between different Movement structures. We find this to be an odd omission considering that the responsibilities and mandates of hubs are detailed. The mechanisms for funding are also key to understanding the power dynamics between e.g. hubs and the WMF (if that is the source of funding). Will the hubs receive direct funding? Are members expected to fund them, and if so, can the funders of these affiliates (today the WMF) in turn put a cap on how big a contribution they are allowed to make to the hub(s) they are members of? If they are expected to rely on fundraising (regional hubs) then what is the solution for hubs based in regions where there are less fundraising opportunities? Is power really being distributed in a more equitable way if we don’t ensure hubs are also given the financial possibilities to succeed with their mission? This also ties in with some of the question marks around overlapping regions and funds dissemination raised below, as well as how we ensure hubs don't compete for funds but rather that collaboration between the hubs is promoted.

Detailed feedback

Below follow a few thoughts on specific parts of the document, these should be read in the light of what we describe above.

Definition and purpose
  • It is unclear to us why there is a distinction between regional and thematic hubs in some circumstances. Some things (such as regional hubs empowering capacity building and knowledge transfer) could equally well apply to the other hub type but is only stated for one of them. We would like to see a clarification that both types of hubs could work within all areas outlined in the Strategic Recommendations.
  • What is considered a “region” is not defined. This makes it unclear if the intention is to split the whole world up into non-overlapping geographical regions or if regions are allowed to partially overlap and are instead based on shared challenges and opportunities. If there is an intrinsic value in splitting the entire world into non-overlapping regional hubs, then these values should be made explicit.
  • Both this section and that on “Set-up and governance process” state that the purpose is to “be a mutual support structure for the hub members”. Does this mean that they should not support non-members (organizations or individuals). And does this conflict with the statement about individuals under “Membership and composition”? We believe that this would be an unfortunate limitation and that the text should be amended to clarify that hubs are empowered to decide who to support within their regional or thematic focus (and if there are any specific limitations to this – the limitations should preferably be outlined in detail in supporting policy documents).
Membership and composition
  • The proposal states that individuals cannot be members in hubs. Does this risk disenfranchising individuals or groups of individuals e.g. coming from countries without a Wikimedia affiliate? While they can be supported by a regional hub they neither have influence over the direction of the hub nor representation ensuring that their needs are catered for. [It might not be legally possible or safe for such individuals to formally organize within their own country]. We suggest investing some efforts into identifying paths for individuals to engage directly within the hubs, e.g. through some form of representation.
  • When it comes to thematic hubs (and albeit less explicitly for regional hubs) individuals may have a more direct interest in this area of work without wanting to join an existing affiliate. Do we really want to set up a process where such affiliates would need to set up a User group mirroring the theme of the hub in order to have a say in its decision making?
  • It is unclear if external organizations (non-Wikimedia affiliates) can be members of a hub (while it is clear that such an organization could act as a Hub Host). Examples of such external organizations could be free knowledge organizations (such as Open Knowledge, Creative Commons, OpenStreetMap, to mention a few), GLAM institutions, universities and research organizations, IGOs, etc., or regionally active chapters of these organizations.

Since this has a must, could and should section we interpret it as being exhaustive. I.e. anything not explicitly listed here is disallowed. We think that this is unfortunate and would like to not see this phrased as an exhaustive list of allowed responsibilities. Doing so means we lose the potential that hubs may bring to the way we work and, in the strictest reading of this, demote them to simply organizing and administering pre-existing knowledge. Hubs can be an opportunity for new means of contacts with external organizations, new partnership opportunities and engaging with other actors in the free knowledge space and enabling new forms of engagement with our movement, especially since the aim of the 2030 strategy is to be the essential infrastructure in the ecosystem of free knowledge. We should not limit ourselves to only reorganizing existing structures. Regardless we do have some additions we think would be important to include, which we outline below.

  • Neither of the three categories mention providing software support or software development. Does this mean that this is disallowed for a hub? We believe that this would be very unfortunate and goes directly against clear statements in the Strategic Recommendations:
    • Recommendation 2. Improve User Experience highlights the importance for more actors engaging in software work in multiple points, and argues for the need for "collective action throughout the Wikimedia ecosystem" to improve the experience of users through software.
    • Recommendation 4. Ensure Equity in Decision-Making makes it clear that hubs are one of those actors; one important task of hubs is in “Developing appropriate technologies to better serve communities”. We would like to see a clarification in the Movement Charter that this is indeed a possible area of work for the hubs. As part of our work with the pilot Content Partnerships Hub the need for hub support for software development and maintenance is one of the most frequently stated requests.
  • Reading the list of responsibilities the focus is clearly on coordination and support, but it is unclear to what extent this needs to be reactive rather than active. E.g. suggesting and then developing new software to fill an identified need as opposed to only fixing software when it is requested by a member. This could probably be fixed by clarifying what is meant with “service provision”. We believe that it is important that hubs should be able to also work strategically and ambitiously, based on equitable long term-plans within their regional or thematic focus, and not simply reacting when something that already exists breaks.
  • It is not clear that a hub would be empowered to coordinate and work with external actors. This is relevant e.g. in working directly with organizations which are on a similar regional level, or in the case of thematic hubs on a global level, where working directly with the members would be less natural for this organization. We believe that this is very important to include and would be a missed opportunity otherwise.
Fundraising and Funds Dissemination
  • The terminology in this section should be clarified. In our comments below we have taken “fundraising” to mean only funds solicited through donations and not funds received through grants.
  • Similarly when talking about grants in this section it is unclear if this refers to external grants, internal grants (i.e. grants given from one movement actor to another, using funds raised by the banners on the Wikimedia platforms) or both. In our comments below we have taken it as referring to any grants, independent of source.
  • Is the idea with “Regional hubs may fundraise locally” that the regional hubs would be allowed to run local banner fundraising campaigns on Wikipedia? If so, that should be clarified.
  • Regardless of the answer on the bullet above, it is not made clear why regional hubs would not be allowed to apply for grants. Together with regional hub pilots the pilot Content Partnerships Hub have over the last year experimented with developing large multi-country project applications to external funders. From what we have seen so far, this seems to be a very suitable and valuable task for both the regional and thematic hubs. We have also identified funding opportunities for Wikimedian in Residence positions across the world. We are happy to provide detailed examples of this if requested. We believe that both these options have the potential to be very beneficial for the movement and an important opportunity to increase financial sustainability as outlined in Strategic Recommendation 1. Increase the Sustainability of Our Movement. To limit this work would therefore be very unfortunate and we suggest a clarification that allows for this. Our general point here is to be careful in limiting how the hubs could and should secure funds in the Movement Charter, as there is still a strong need for experimentation in this area. If a limit is included, it should be made clear why this is necessary.
  • Under “Funds Dissemination” it says “Hubs can allocate funds to their members.” While it says “can” it would be good to understand if this is the expected flow of funding (especially for general funding) as it has a bearing on e.g. overlapping regions or affiliate membership in multiple hubs (see also note under Safeguards).
  • Considering the possibility of hubs to allocate funds to members there should probably be a note here requiring hubs to ensure grant recipients have not received other funding to cover the same activities.
  • Under “Conflicts of Interest” the second bullet point raises a valid concern which we believe is there to ensure funds disseminated by the hub are allocated fairly and that the hub does not effectively self-allocate some of the funds it is meant to distribute. There are however a few concerns around the phrasing:
    • The current proposal does not make it clear that if the hub is also applying for the same funding that does not prevent them from helping others (coordinating on grant applications can strengthen both applications). This is especially true for external (non-Wikimedia) grants.
    • The proposal can be read as disallowing any type of feedback to applicants. This effectively favors applicants who are experienced at applying for grants over new actors, thus working against our target of enabling more actors to work towards the goals of our movement. A better mechanism here might be to ensure that anyone providing support to applicants a) needs to do so in a manner fair to all applicants, b) cannot be involved in the decision making process around the grant.
    • It should be clarified if this rule applies only to grants financed by WMF/banner funds or to any grants.
    • It is important that the phrasing used here doesn’t prevent the hub members from having an input on how funding should be distributed in a good way. I.e. communication is important in both directions.

Community question

And finally, the Community question "Should there be a limit to how many hubs an affiliate can join?". We see issues with restricting this as an affiliate may be active in many thematic areas. In fact most chapters work in multiple programmatic areas. Restricting the number of hubs it could join would essentially mean we are restricting the diversity of the work done by affiliates. Also when it comes to regional hubs we see examples of affiliates spanning multiple regions, be they continental, geopolitical or cultural.

The main benefit of limiting the number of hubs an affiliate is a member of, as we see it, relates to funds dissemination and ensuring a member does not draw funds for the same work from multiple hubs or that there is uncertainty as to which hub an affiliate should turn for funding. But fixing this is better served by clear instructions around funds dissemination and demands on the applicants than by restricting hub membership.

Thank you, André Costa (WMSE) (talk) 11:51, 31 August 2023 (UTC)

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