Talk:Movement Charter/Content/Preamble

Latest comment: 1 year ago by AAkhmedova (WMF) in topic Revised draft chapters published

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Draft chapter November 2022

Please Comment!

Hi all, on behalf of the Preamble Drafting Group! :)

Please feel free to comment on any of the below:

  1. What we've missed out
  2. What we've included, but should be removed
  3. What needs to stay, but be changed
  4. Any suggestions to keep both a strong "self-governance" trend, while resolving Legal's valid concerns
  5. Any other "word-smithing" suggestions

If you could say why, that'd be even better! Nosebagbear (talk) 09:32, 15 November 2022 (UTC)

Hysteron proteron

“To achieve our focus, the movement has developed a wide range of knowledge repositories (“the projects”) in multiple languages with different focuses.” That's factually incorrect, more precisely a hysteron proteron: There have been projects before anything which could be named as a movement (if there is any) ever existed. In the earlier days, we've just called it Wikiverse. Whether there is really a social Wiki movement which was created on these foundations, is disputed, within the communities but also amongst scientists. No matter what is right, this sentence has to be rephrased to reflect the correct order. Thank you, —DerHexer (Talk) 17:19, 15 November 2022 (UTC)

PS: Or maybe use a different word than “developed” like “contributed to”, “fostered”, etc. —DerHexer (Talk) 17:24, 15 November 2022 (UTC)
This is a good point about history, and it's important to recognize that there's fundamentally a delegation from the projects to the rest of the 'movement'. TomDotGov (talk) 00:07, 18 November 2022 (UTC)
Speaking in my DG sense, I've noted both those aspects for review, DerHezer. Speaking purely in my nbb sense, I would like to curse your name for leading me down a rabbit hole, having never heard of "hysteron proteron" before. Nosebagbear (talk) 11:07, 18 November 2022 (UTC)
One of my favourite rhetorical devices! ;D Thanks for noting it. Best, —DerHexer (Talk) 11:21, 23 November 2022 (UTC)

Definition of Movement

Draft visualization of the "Community" area of the Movement Charter's narrative (from the Committee's in-person meeting in June 2022).

I dont like the word movement. When I think about the word movement I think also about bad organizations from the past. This can be because I come from Germany and so it is because of the history of Germany. If I talk to people I tell them about my involvement in the Wikimedia projects. I dont use the word movement or German Bewegung related to my contributions related to the Wikimedia projects. So for me the Wikimedia projects are not a movement. This is a very political word. Please use another word instead. May you can talk instead about Contributors or in German Beitragende.--Hogü-456 (talk) 20:37, 15 November 2022 (UTC)

Hi @Hogü-456, thank you for this comment! With "Wikimedia Movement" we refer to a bigger spectrum and not only the Benutzer or Beitragende. We have sketched the image here on the right at our meeting in Berlin, to try and visualize all the layers of the word. In short: communities are made up out of individuals, and individuals move between communities - communities are fluïd, and one user can be in several communities. The layer around those communities includes the entities and makes up the WikiMedia Movement, and the Wikimedia Movement is part of the broader Open Knowledge movement. I hope that makes sense!
After reading my explanation and looking at the image, do you still think we should not use the word 'movement'? Can you propose alternatives different from Contributor or Beitragende? Because I think they might actually be too limited for what this text is intending to say. Ciell (talk) 18:00, 18 November 2022 (UTC)
While I'm sympathetic to @Hogü-456's concerns, we have been using the term "movement" for more than a decade within the community. For the last 5 years the term "Movement Strategy" has been the formal name of the process (Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20). I cannot see how we can make a drastic change around this when there is no critical mass to do so. - Fuzheado (talk) 00:21, 6 December 2022 (UTC)


It's a bad sign when the first thing you see on the wiki page about the Wikimedia Movement Charter is a request not to edit a wiki page. Can I please ask the movement charter drafting committee to remove that disclaimer, so we can make changes and implement suggestions like we do other forms of policy and content?

I'll also point out that the word 'wiki' doesn't appear at all in this preamble, except as part of 'Wikimedia', requiring clunky euphemisms like 'knowledge repositories' to replace it. That's something that would be easy to fix with a simple click of the edit button. TomDotGov (talk) 00:03, 18 November 2022 (UTC)

Hi @TomDotGov - just responding in my own right, but while I know it's on the general list to review I'll bump the committee to see their thoughts, as it's part of the actual feedback process so obviously is preferable not to wait until the end (although it has applicability as a desire to every chapter's feedback).
The issue I'm seeing with the "allow changes akin to a normal policy" is that the drafts are currently sitting on various fora, including the Strategy Discourse which is primarily used by non-English speakers. I'm not aware of any way to keep the two twinned, which would make the process distinctly confusing and out of sync over time.
I don't know why we didn't think to use the word "wiki", and define of that, but I like it! Trying to find a term that didn't require a certain amount of axiomatic definition was a pain which led to the (freely admitted) clunky phrasing you note. Wiki could be a good route round it, alongside a broader definition, and I'll raise it with the Drafting Group. Nosebagbear (talk) 10:20, 30 November 2022 (UTC)
Perhaps WMF staff can copy the text from the wiki to the discourse on a regular basis? They're already posting regularly in those threads.
I'd suggest that 'wiki' be defined as "an online platform that volunteer users can collaboratively edit", perhaps in the next section. That would make wikidata fall clearly on the 'wiki' side of the spectrum, while a video or audio hosting site (think youtube or spotify) that isn't collaborative is clearly out of Wikimedia's mission. Capturing the volunteer nature of the wikis is important, and probably should also be in the preamble somewhere, as volunteering is an individual choice. TomDotGov (talk) 04:58, 1 December 2022 (UTC)
I see where you're coming from but I would also not want the movement to be captive to a narrow scope based on what we are doing today. Wiki is what got us here and we should have collaborative and participatory as values, but there is no good reason to be so pedantic and restrictive going forward. - Fuzheado (talk) 00:28, 6 December 2022 (UTC)
I think Tom's text was pretty good. If things change in the future the text can be adjusted based on that new information and reality. We pretty much couldn't say anything at all, if we reject on the basis that it might not perfectly match some unknown future. Alsee (talk) 21:02, 8 December 2022 (UTC)
Given all that has been accomplished on-wiki so far, it's hard to call it a narrow scope. But stepping back, 'wiki' has been a defining part of the projects that comprise this the very start. The first four letters of 'wikimedia' aren't a coincidence. One of the main flaws of the movement strategy so far is that it's been focusing on the free knowledge aspect and ignoring that wikis are where this free knowledge is created, and so it talks to only part of wikimedia. TomDotGov (talk) 15:16, 10 December 2022 (UTC)
In my own mind, I deliberately did not think the word "wiki" was correct, because we have activities that are not wiki-based but are still knowledge repositories; we may well have activities and projects in the future that are completely divergent from wikis. While I personally believe that the wikis are the core of our knowledge repositories, I can't ignore things like Toolhub (which is truly a knowledge repository), or even Phabricator, which has a lot of elements of a knowledge repository. I can easily foresee certain repositories that are not editable in the same sense as our usual wikis, as well. Risker (talk) 04:46, 3 December 2022 (UTC)
Agree with @Risker on this - there is no reason to be so restrictive in a document like this at this stage. - Fuzheado (talk) 00:29, 6 December 2022 (UTC)
Toolhub and Phabricator exist as part of the infrastructure to support the founding principles, but shouldn't be confused with the principles. If Phabricator went away for some reason - say, the teams decided to move to gitlab - that would be a detail. If Wikipedia went away, Wikimedia would be a complete failure.
'Knowledge reposititories' that are not editable should not be something Wikimedia hosts, except in support of the wikis that give Wikimedia its name. TomDotGov (talk) 15:26, 10 December 2022 (UTC)

Re, the mentioned remarks from WMF legal department. As stated there, governments usually have issues when dealing with non-incorporated entities. And corporated identites intending to conduct independent (self-governed) activities usually have issues with governments. I think we need to decide where to place legal liability: to the corporate structure (WMF), thus increasing corporate risk and complexity, or to incorporated projects or subsidiaries, delegating potential conflicts to where they can be resolved, but thus decreasing independence. I'd believe in the approach of federated incorporated bodies. Dealing with multiple governments ensure, that at least one version independent from any particular government exists. I doubt, that - in the current trend of regulating information - non-incorporated bodies (like projects) will be allowed to publish or act on the long term.--Alturand (talk) 11:54, 25 November 2022 (UTC)

While I understand a layer's inclination towards the most empty words possible - The projects are built with systems of self-governance - I agree with the MCDC belief that the general original meaning needs to remain while satisfying Legal’s concerns. Perhaps we could use something like The projects are largely self-governed with respect to content creation, community conduct, and management, but subject to global community oversight and subject to formal entities* responsible for legal compliance. I'm not thrilled with the phrase "formal entities", I invite legal or anyone else to insert a better phrase in that spot. I also added mention of global community oversight, as there is established practice of global consensus overriding local governance (i.e the revoking abusive Coataian Admins). Alsee (talk) 22:12, 8 December 2022 (UTC)

Meaningless stuff

Hi, while translating this into Urdu, I found that in the Therefore section, there is a meaningless sentence that should be corrected. as well as community conduct. The movement also includes both organised and informal groups focused on specific matters or geographic regions. The role of these groups is to support the projects directly and indirectly., where does this begin at? At the least it has nothing to do with the previous sentence, Any suggestions and specific phrasings that can capture the meaning while satisfying Legal’s concerns would be very appreciated.. -- on behalf of DCW. ─ The Aafī (talk) 05:50, 29 November 2022 (UTC)

I feel like it is due to the content between ref, but nonetheless, it should be incorporated in such a way that previous sentence makes complete sense as so the words, as well as community conductThe Aafī (talk) 10:57, 29 November 2022 (UTC)
@TheAafi Sorry for causing you this difficulty! The translation extension has many limitations, and one of them is dealing with referencing. I'm not aware of any different method to mark the <ref> material for translation without causing this awkward break (perhaps @Aaharoni-WMF may know better?). A reconstructed sentence would be: The projects are largely self-governed, with respect to community conduct. Let me know if this helps --Abbad (WMF) (talk) 11:48, 1 December 2022 (UTC).
@Abbad (WMF), I did get this idea because I am one of the translation admins here. What I think is to move ref to the end of the sentence, so that the awkward break gets automatically removed. The projects are largely self-governed, with respect to content creation and management, as well as community conduct.[1] Since the text is ref is an explanation, it is not good to put it in between, at least according to opinion. ─ The Aafī (talk) 13:59, 1 December 2022 (UTC)
Thanks! Actually, someone also pointed me out to the template {{note}}, which would have resolved this formatting issue to begin with. Unfortunately, I didn't know about it before. I'll use it in the future, but for this time around I can't make the change without breaking the +dozen translations currently on the page! I will fix it in the next drafts though :) --Abbad (WMF) (talk) 10:35, 5 December 2022 (UTC).

Comments on Preamble from WMDE


The first two paragraphs serve the purpose of a preamble - explaining why the charter exists and what and who it governs. It sounds like the term “formal social agreement” probably arose from the need to have something that sounds binding, yet not committing to creating a legally binding document. It is unclear why the fourth paragraph about the infrastructure has to be in a preamble, or in the charter at all.

Missing from the preamble is a reference to the Strategic Direction and its broad aim. We realize that the charter will be designed to outlive the 2030 Movement Strategy, but some context on its origin, and the ideas of knowledge as a service and knowledge equity will serve as the value base of the whole document, and reaffirm the commitment of the movement.


  • Let’s be clear and create a binding agreement, for existing and future legal entities of the movement to agree to by signature and to honor. Remove the term “social” agreement, as it refers to implicit agreements. We are deliberately creating an explicit agreement here
  • Rewrite the third paragraph to clearly acknowledge the independent self governance of communities/projects, and how it relates or doesn't relate to the charter
  • Remove the fourth paragraph
  • Add some language that reaffirms and commits to the Strategic Direction

(these are part of a complete statement on the charter language proposed so far, which can be found here.) Nicola Zeuner (WMDE) (talk) 12:22, 1 December 2022 (UTC)

As a minimum, remove the last sentence of that section. DGG (talk) 11:54, 5 December 2022 (UTC)
  • Thank you for your comments. Since the Charter is intended to cover everyone, and not just the legal entities of the movement, there is no reasonable way to require that everyone agree by signature to the Charter. It's unreasonable to expect that an editor must agree in writing to the terms of the charter before making their first edit; aside from the obvious issues of driving potential contributors away, the movement still supports the concept that contributors do not need to identify (in a legally binding way) in order to participate. Nobody's in favour of requiring that projects be closed if they don't develop a process to sign off on the Charter, and then actually do it. Further, some of these issues will be addressed in the entity-specific sections of the charter that have yet to be published. We will make a note of the proposal to require confirmation that entities be expected to adhere to the charter in some form.

    As to the 2030 Movement Strategy and its impact on the Charter, its main impact has been to get the Charter written. I personally remember discussions and pushes to create a charter going back at least 15 years, and it has been discussed in multiple forums on a regular basis throughout that time. The 2030 Movement Strategy has also not received any confirming support except from affiliates and the WMF Board; neither projects nor contributors have been asked to confirm it. Thus, it's questionable whether a Charter affirming support of the 2030 Movement Strategy would gain support of those communities and individuals who have given it little thought to date.

    We are cautious about the wording related to self-governance because there have already been multiple examples of these self-governing communities that the movement (such as it is right now) has had to step in and bring them back in line with broader community standards and expectations. This has applied to both affiliates and projects. These groups aren't truly independent; they're all interdependent. The principles of subsidiarity may deserve some discussion here.

    I'm not certain why there's so much objection to the fourth paragraph. The infrastructure of the movement is critical to the success of our mission. I'm surprised to see an affiliate feeling that it's not important enough to mention as a core part of the charter, given that the main purpose of affiliates is to provide the kind of infrastructure support described in that paragraph (within their own limitations, which vary considerably). In particular, I'm concerned DGG is concerned about the last sentence. I'd suggest turning that sentence around; should we be investing support in processes that are not in keeping with our values? Should we expect to actively violate laws in countries in which our projects/affiliates operate? Should we expend more than we have in terms of money, staffing, software, and volunteer hours? That sentence is an important one, in that it confirms that we're going to follow our values, we're not going to be profligate with any of our resources, and we're going to work within the law.

I'm hoping that this may clarify some of the points raised here. Thanks for the ideas, some of which can be incorporated into this or other parts of the Charter. Risker (talk) 17:52, 5 December 2022 (UTC)

@Risker - I get your point how "agree to by signature" is impractical, which is why the "social agreement" phrase was used. Might the terms implicit and explicit (as brought up by WMDE) be useful for direct use in the preamble in this context? For constituents or stakeholders that are legal entities, explicit agreements are important. But for volunteer or anonymous editors, who come and go and are covered by TOU simply by navigating to our sites, we could state that they are implicitly covered by aspects of the movement charter. - Fuzheado (talk) 00:43, 6 December 2022 (UTC)
@Nicola Zeuner (WMDE) (I'm going to try and split aspects discussed within the Drafting Group and aspects that are very much my own as an editor) - a couple of notes on your feedback.
Drafting Group
The Drafting Group endeavoured to avoid considering one or two values so as to avoid prioritising them above the others before they are outlined in the following chapter. On the mention of the strategic direction, as Anne notes, the DG didn't want to embed chronological out of date issues.
My own $0.02'
I myself had another issue, one I've raised in various fora: the direction does not have any community consensus behind it, never received ratification, and also includes a huge array of aspects, multiple components of which contradict each other (although, having a slightly contradictory strategic direction might be said to be suitably wikimedian!). I don't know if a majority of the MCDC would concur or not with me on each of those points, not having asked them (as the point outlined by Anne dominated), but I would be reticent to require MC ratification necessitate ratification of the full direction, as well. Nosebagbear (talk) 21:55, 13 December 2022 (UTC)

WMDE's response to MCDC's responses

Thanks for your responses to our comments. They helped us better understand where some members of the Drafting Committee are coming from. However, this has raised additional concerns:

1. Accountability to the Strategy

Risker and Nosebagbear, you both seem to see the work of the MCDC as somewhat unrelated to Movement Strategy and its components, and question the legitimacy of the work that was done (calling the Strategic Direction “chronological out of date issue”).


  • The Strategic Direction is clear in its value base and its intent to create an accessible, inclusive, diverse global movement. This mandate is not out of date. Nor are the principles at the base of the recommendations, (such as subsidiarity) which are very relevant to the future content of the charter.
  • The Strategic Direction was the result of an intense consultative process that included thousands of Wikimedians. It was indeed endorsed by many: Direction/Endorsement
  • The recommendations, while of varying quality and level of detail, and while they should be evaluated, iterated, and adapted where needed, are the movement artifact that led to the creation of the MCDC. Previous discussions may have contributed to this, but the MCDC’s mandate is from Movement Strategy.
  • The recommendations did not go through an endorsement process for a reason – they are recommendations, not goals. They are written to be built upon, in action and in creating artifacts, such as the charter. However, the process – extensive consultation and hard work of diverse groups of volunteers that resulted in the recommendations – provides legitimacy to them.

We feel it is important for the MCDC to acknowledge the accountability to the content, values and guardrails that resulted from the strategy process, and create the charter in this context. You are not starting with a clean slate here.

The reluctance to embrace the changes articulated in the 2030 Movement Strategy as part of the charter seems to come from a fear of lacking community support, especially from the established communities. However, we hope that the MCDC sees itself as agents of change, and dares to make bold proposals for the future, rather than to appease those that reject an opening of our movement.

2. Ratification vs. Engagement

As we previously stated, we applaud the process of the MCDC so far, which allows communities to engage with manageable amounts of content. We encourage the MCDC to find additional ways to ask the big questions and get input from communities before drafting a lot of language.

The use of the term ratification to seek community approval may have been leading us on an erroneous path from the beginning, inducing a lot of problems that we do not need to create. In the development of international agreements, ratification means that leaders negotiate and sign the agreement and then take it back to their democratic institutions for final approval. Our movement lacks the consistent local governance structures to conduct ratification. So we are left with two mechanisms, which should be used in parallel (agreeing with Fuzheado here):

(a) Signatures for affiliates (and yes, those with governance structures will need to seek approval of their boards and memberships). At the affiliate level, we recommend that signing the charter be one condition for being an accredited Wikimedia organization. This is standard practice in many confederated movements. The point here is a power shift, in which the accreditation shifts away from WMF and towards a movement accountability mechanism, and assuring that all entities agree to the values, roles and responsibilities outlined in the charter.

(b) Engagement – The better the engagement process for both the established and the emerging and marginalized communities, the better the product and its legitimacy at the community level. Some good practices and recommendations can be found in the paper “Designing futures of participation in the Wikimedia Movement” written by Platoniq.

Thanks again for your hard work! --Nicole Ebber (WMDE) (talk) 10:55, 19 December 2022 (UTC)

Feedback deadline is 18 December

Thank you for all the feedback! This is an acknowledgement that all comments here are being monitored. A summary of them is being compiled and will be shared back here in January 2023. The MCDC will refer to the same summary when refining this draft and others early in the new year. As a reminder and as mentioned in the community consultations page, the deadline for this round of consultations is 18 December, so please share your feedback by then. There will also be more feedback opportunities in 2023 Abbad (WMF) (talk) 13:14, 14 December 2022 (UTC)

Comments from Yair Rand

  • "The Wikimedia movement is focused on developing, curating and expanding the global availability of free knowledge."
    • Okay, we have our opening statement, succinctly defining the Wikimedia movement in very few words. It's ... okay, I guess? I'd expect this to include some mention of it being an open volunteer movement, and some gesture towards the "anyone can edit" philosophy or wikis in general. Or maybe just to quote the Vision, which may be worth putting somewhere in the preamble.
  • "This applies equally to both existing entities and those to be established."
    • The future tense here may sound confusing after the Charter is implemented and those new entities are functioning.
  • "The Movement Charter applies to all members, entities and technical spaces within the Wikimedia movement"
    • The use of "members" may be confusing. We're not formally "members" of anything (except for affiliate members, I suppose). We normally use terms like "contributors" or "participants", I think?
    • The term "technical spaces" (and "spaces" more generally) has been brought up in other places as being confusing. I admit I don't really know what the term specifically refers to.
  • "To achieve our focus"
    • Does one "achieve" a "focus"? I think this is a misuse of the word "focus".
  • "wide range of knowledge repositories (“the projects”)"
    • Not all projects are knowledge repositories themselves, some (the Mediawiki software project, Meta-Wiki, and to a lesser extent Wikilambda, Commons, and Wikidata) exist to aid the "knowledge repository" projects.
  • "The projects are largely self-governed"
    • This is problematic both in that it isn't clear enough that certain areas are definitively community-governed (such that the WMF may not intervene), and that certain areas are within the WMF's scope of authority and responsibility (as they've noted). Presumably, the Charter will clearly outline the scope of each group's responsibilities, so this part of the preamble should extend this bit by making a direct reference to those parts of the Charter. This would fix both issues.
  • "with respect to content creation and management"
    • This is ambiguous about whether it's "[content creation] and [management]" or "content [creation and management]". Both are true and important, and should be made clear. I'd probably use "administration" somewhere in there. This bit should show that the community oversees its content and runs itself (eg, in local policy, userrights management, templating, gadgets, blocks and patrolling and procedures and so on).
  • "The infrastructure supports... The infrastructure provides... The infrastructure endeavours... The infrastructure also supports... The nature and extent of the infrastructure support is..."
    • That's way too many consecutive sentences starting with "The infrastructure", it doesn't read nicely. Additionally, after reading through this paragraph, I'm still not sure exactly what "the infrastructure" is even referring to.
  • "The infrastructure also supports content contributors, readers, and all others who are part of the global Wikimedia movement by promoting and advancing a safe and productive environment in which knowledge can be shared and consumed, where it is not feasible for a local project to do so itself."
    • I don't know what this is whole sentence is referring to.
    • "readers, and all others who are part of the global Wikimedia movement" - This takes a firm stance that all of our readers are part of the movement. I'm not sure this is a workable definition/boundary.
    • "promoting and advancing" - Seems redundant? I think "promoting" could be removed without losing anything.
  • "The nature and extent of the infrastructure support is limited by the movement’s values, resources, and restrictions imposed outside of the movement."
    • I don't see what this sentence adds here, especially the latter bits.

--Yair rand (talk) 00:50, 19 December 2022 (UTC)

Feedback report published

Thank you, again, to all who participated in the community consultation. We have published a summary of the feedback, to give a brief idea of the sentiments about the published drafts. The summary is based on an extended list of all the feedback received, which the Movement Charter Drafting Committee (MCDC) is looking through in detail in order to refine the current drafts.

The MCDC will share responses to the feedback in March 2023 (including what changes they are making and, if no changes are being made, the rationale/response to it) --Abbad (WMF) (talk) 12:47, 31 January 2023 (UTC).

Not sure it's a good idea to have a common policy for content contributors and WMF

The Movement Charter applies to all members, entities and technical spaces within the Wikimedia movement, including but not limited to content contributors, projects, affiliates, and the Wikimedia Foundation.

I don't think applying the same norms and rules members of the WMF and a Wikipedia contributor. One is paid to perform a role, the other is committing their free time to improve something. Expecting the same level of buy from contributors isn't necessarily reasonable. For example, while I think it's reasonable that the WMF should care about language barriers - I don't think the same applies to a contributor adding a few paragraphs to a topic they feel needs to be written about. There are other examples. Talpedia (talk) 14:41, 10 April 2023 (UTC)

Draft chapter May 2023

Revised draft chapters published

The Movement Charter Drafting Committee has shared the revised draft chapters: Preamble, Values & Principles, and Roles and Responsibilities intentions statement. These revisions are based on the community feedback received in late 2022. Please note that the drafts are subject to change based on future reviews and will not be finalized until the full Charter is published. --AAkhmedova (WMF) (talk) 13:17, 19 May 2023 (UTC)

Return to "Movement Charter/Content/Preamble" page.