- Affiliations Committee Visits the Mothership
- Affiliations Committee January 2015 Meeting
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- Things have changed a lot since the Wikimedia Affiliations Committee first became active in 2006. What does that mean for the future of the committee? How do we evolve the recognition process to best suite the vision for Wikimedia User Groups? What does "supporting" affiliates look like with their diverse needs? Those were the questions facing members of the Affiliations Committee, our Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees liaisons, and members of the Wikimedia Foundation staff involved with Wikimedia movement affiliate governance as we gathered at the Wikimedia Foundation "Mothership" in San Francisco.
Things have changed a lot since the Wikimedia Affiliations Committee (then known as the Chapters Committee) first became active in 2006. What does that mean for the future of the committee? How do we evolve the recognition process to best suite the vision for Wikimedia User Groups? What does "supporting" affiliates look like with their diverse needs? Those were the questions facing members of the Affiliations Committee, our Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees liaisons (Jan-Bart de Vreede and Alice Wiegand), and members of the Wikimedia Foundation staff involved with Wikimedia movement affiliate governance as we gathered at the Wikimedia Foundation "Mothership" in San Francisco.
This two-day meeting was a unique opportunity for the committee and Foundation to focus on specific questions. The committee will follow this meeting up with their annual meeting this May, once again being held during the Wikimedia Conference in Berlin, where we will discuss specific plans for the upcoming. Whereas this meeting in San Francisco was focused on the broader and longer-term issues.
Prior to the changes to the Wikimedia movement affiliates model, which expanded the model beyond just chapters, the committee averaged 7 resolutions a year and approved an average of 5 new affiliates each year. Since the changes, the committee's workload has increased to an average of 27 resolutions a year and 18 new affiliates each year. This has created a number of issues which were anticipates, and others which were not. The committee has worked to evolve our processes to adapt to these issues, and this meeting was an opportunity to take what we have learned from those experiences and apply them to the future. Some of these changes have included improved documentation on Meta-Wiki on matters like logos and naming guidelines, and numerous changes to the Wikimedia User Group to expedite and simplify things. While the Wikimedia Foundation's staff have played a supporting role in many of these changes, a vast majority of the work was conducted by volunteers - most of whom were present for this meeting.
All but one member of the Affiliations Committee were able to attend (Salvador Alcántar Morán was unable to attend due to an unavoidable work scheduling conflict which arose after the date had been selected), and staff participants included Stephen LaPorte, Asaf Bartov, Winifred Olliff, Lila Tretikov, Geoff Brigham, Maggie Dennis, and Anasuya Sengupta. The first day of the meeting was focused primarily on the future of the Affiliations Committee, a new process for recognizing Wikimedia User Groups, and possible support and benefits to offer Wikimedia User Groups. The day began with a breakfast with Lila, and ended with a group dinner at the Wikimedia Foundation's San Francisco offices (where the meeting was being held). The second day of the meeting was focused primarily on organizational effectiveness of Wikimedia movement affiliates, approving a new recognition and renewal process for Wikimedia User Groups, initial planning for development of support services for Wikimedia movement affiliates, responding to inactive or harmful affiliates, and a discussion on selecting new members of the Affiliations Committee. The day ended with a trip to the Internet Archive, group dinner at The Stinking Rose, and visit to City Lights Bookstore. During the meeting, the committee received two presentations from the TCC Group on organizational effectiveness within the context of the Wikimedia community.
We brainstormed on the impact of the committee's work, what work should be undertaken, the effectiveness of current work, and the effectiveness of the committee's current operating protocols. While no formal action was adopted and an amendment to official resolutions regarding the committee's scope were not discussed, a number of conclusions were reached. Including that the Committee should continue to be involved in the approval process of all potential movement affiliates. However, there was a strong feeling that the committee's work should expand to more completely fulfill its scope of helping the Foundation support affiliates during the lifespan of each affiliate organization. In other words, the committee's advisory role should expand beyond just recognition of affiliates. Moving ahead, the committee and Foundation staff will work closer together to collaborate on completion of activities and resources to benefit Wikimedia movement affiliates. The committee, staff, and board will continue to investigate ways to increase dialogue between each other and setup more regular and systematic methods of dialogue between the Foundation, committee, potential affiliates, and current affiliates.
Another key topic discussed was the process for recognizing Wikimedia user groups. Participants agreed that the current process should be simplified, requirements kept to a minimum, and requested staff support for processing applications. After discussion on day one, a new process and Wikimedia user group criteria was drafted and proposed on day two. After discussion on guidance for drafting implementation steps, meeting participants supported and tentatively adopted a new Wikimedia user group criteria simplified to three or more active Wikimedians (defined as 10 edits/year) and agreeing to a new Wikimedia User Group code of conduct. The user group code of conduct will include the expectations discussed at the meeting, such as a mission aligned with Wikimedia, engaging in appropriate conduct, and publishing some information about the group on a Wikimedia project wiki (such as Meta-Wiki). The committee can talk to applicants to understand if they are in a good position to meet the code of conduct and will reserve discretion to end recognition. The approval process itself will be simplified further with a goal of reducing approval times further from a couple of weeks to a few days. A final version of the code of conduct and process will be adopted and published in the coming weeks.
The process for renewing Wikimedia user group agreements when they expire and how to best handle Wikimedia movement affiliates which are no longer in compliance with their agreements with the Foundation was also discussed. Participants agreed that the current user group renewal process should be simplified, requirements kept to a minimum, and requested staff support for processing renewals. After discussion on day one, a new process was drafted and proposed on day two. After discussion on guidance for drafting implementation steps, meeting participants supported a new renewal process focused on a nearly automatic process with committee oversight. The participants agreed on what basic compliance with Foundation agreements meant, and discussed how to best resolve noncompliance via a basic staff-driven process with community oversight (by way of the committee and Foundation board). A final version of these new processes will also be adopted and published in the coming weeks.
A lot of ideas for how the committee and Foundation can increase support for movement affiliates was discussed. After discussion on both days, it was decided that the committee would initially focus on three primary areas over the coming months. Those areas include a welcome packet for new affiliates, developing a "Handbook" for affiliates, and developing a survey and method of better supporting affiliate reporting. Additional changes to existing resources and development of additional resources will be discussed during the committee's annual meeting in May.
Finally, the committee discussed the composition of the committee and future methods for selecting members. The committee previously acknowledged that the process needed an extensive review. The end-of-year selection process was delayed to allow for this review, and at that time the terms of members whose terms were to expire were extended to the end of March 2015. During the meeting, participants agreed that a more transparent process that focuses intentionally on issues like skills and diversity should be developed. Participants also discussed when to roll out this new process, possibly in March or possibly at the end of the year - which would require an additional extension of members with terms soon expiring. The committee will continue discussing this over the coming weeks.
While a lot of progress was made, and many important topics were discussed, there is much work to do. The Affiliations Committee and those within the Wikimedia Foundation that we work with are committed to continuing to evolve and improve on how we interact with and support Wikimedia movement affiliates. Stay tuned to the committee's Meta-Page, Wikimedia mailing lists, and this blog for future updates on these developments. Thank you for your continued support, patience, and feedback.
Note: A more detailed report on the meeting can be found on Meta-Wiki.
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- Also working on getting 1-2 photos from meeting posted on Commons. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 19:33, 28 February 2015 (UTC)