Wikimedia Café/minutes 2019 11

21 November 2019 (moved due to the Thanksgiving Day holiday in the United States)




21 November 2019 at 1 PM Eastern / 6 PM UTC (13:00 Eastern / 18:00 UTC)

Proposed agenda

  1. Introductions, including usernames and/or realnames, affiliations, interests in attending the meeting, and one thing for which you're grateful
  2. We will continue the discussion from the previous Wikimedia Café regarding Wikimedia activities and organizational affiliates in India.
    1. See October 2019 notes - conversation is about community organization and wiki finance in India
    2. Note - Wikimedia Café is for general Wikimedia conversation, and in future meetings will not be India-focused
    3. All conversation stays positive! Avoid criticism and negativity! Talk about what works!
    4. P. Nair, Roshni (4 November 2019). "How Wikimedia India went bust". The Morning Context. 
    5. Requests to see financial reports
      1. Wikimedia Katherine, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation - A comment from the Wikimedia Foundation on the Wikimedia India de-recognition and future support to Wikimedia projects and communities in India
      2. Wikimedia Asaf, Senior Program Officer, Emerging Wikimedia Communities, Wikimedia Foundation - Thanks for conversation about Wikimedia India
      3. Wikimedia Delphine, Program Officer, Annual Plan Grants - Strategy liaison, Wikimedia Foundation - Seeking WMF financial information by region
    6. What amount of Wikimedia money should be spent in India?
      • 2018 amount seems like 0.2% of total WMF budget of US$100 million
  3. How should we share resources like money?
    1. By population?
    2. By which country donates most?
    3. How does the budget get decided now?
    4. How should the budget get decided?

Planning to attend

  1. ↠Pine () 20:33, 6 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:46, 7 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Abhinav619 (talk) 08:14, 15 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  4. --Yair rand (talk) 23:44, 19 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]


  1. Wikimedia Portugal conflict with Wikimedia Foundation Affiliations Committee
    1. Paulo: Last March we in Wikimedia Portugal ended our challenges with AffCom. The WMF requested a change to the "chapter agreement" that the organization had with the WMF. Now there is a new chapter agreement, and as far as I know, WM Portugal is in good standing with the WMF. There is a rumor or misunderstanding that WM Portugal had an internal conflict which was causing internal strife. WM Portugal did expell a single person, and that person complained to AffCom, and it seems that AffCom interpreted that person's complaint as representing a group of people. Upon further investigation this issue was sorted. I wish the misunderstanding had never happened. Perhaps if AffCom were more transparent then this misunderstanding would not have happend.
    2. Pine: Why does this happen with AffCom
    3. Lane: AffCom volunteer, 1 WMF staffer, typical AffCom volunteers are new to wiki organization, public voices in AffCom tend to be Western people. Most AffCom members are silent through their term.
    4. Paulo: We in Wikimedia Portugal had light dealing with AffCom in our challenges with chapter recognition. When WM Portugal was in investigation most of the productive conversation was with WMF staff, not with AffCom itself.
    5. Pine: It seems to be hit or miss about whether volunteer organizations are able to fulfill their work and mandate. With AffCom they are a meta-committee and everyone has to deal with them to stay in good standing with the WMF. Because of that I wish that everyone could depend on AffCom for good services. No one in the wiki community wants to complain about AffCom because they are volunteers, but on the other hand, they fulfill a necessary role as gatekeeper to WMF resources. Since they are so important I wish that their services and approval were reliable and predictable, and that they were available to have public conversations. So far as I know, all Wikipedians think that individuals in AffCom are good contributors, but collectively as a group, I wish that the situation with the committee was different.
    6. Abhinav: If we want to make AffCom accountable then I think we should ask questions about what they commit to do, when they fail to do those things, and how the Wikimedia community should respond when they need AffCom support which does not come. In the last AffCom election I was the only person asking questions but there was not enough scrutiny from the Wikimedia community.
    7. Pine: I would feel comfortable with process being slow in AffCom if they would at least acknowledge when they were working on issues which were pending. Often there is a lack of communication and transparency.
    8. YairRand: I got the impression that much of the 2030 strategy process recommended decentralization of power, and that the WMF would spread out these kinds of responsibilities.
    9. Lane: yes the roles and responsibilities document said this.
    10. Abhinav: The community health recommendation said something interesting., there was also a recommendation of turnover in positions. If someone wanted to be on a committee for a long time then at they should also have terms off, rather than staying in any committee for nth number of times .
    11. Pine:Yes, if someone serves on one committee for two terms, they then should take a break to let other views into that group, and perhaps that person can join another committee for a term. A person who really likes a committee could leave and come back after skipping a term, but anyone who is in one group long term might be overly influencing that group. This is not particularly about AffCom but includes AffCom.
    12. Abhinav: I do not think they want to consider a change, but in the next AffCom nomination period, I want to float the idea of term limits and turnover of membership. I do not think it will pass but I want to raise the issue.
    13. Pine: That seems like a good issue to raise. Paulo, do you have thoughts about how to bring fresh air into AffCom?
    14. Paulo: The main problem that I see with these processes is not the length of the terms but the lack of accountability. There are no standards for judging success except approval by the WMF board of trustees. If we had some system of accountability then maybe the challenges with term limits would not exist. Before AffCom there was "ChapCom", the "chapters committee", and I think that group was more effective.
    15. Pine: For groups which are independent or semi-independent I think transparency is the best practice. With transparency there are fewer questions and is more motivation for everyone to do their best.
    16. Yair Rand: On the idea of limiting terms, I do not think the current committee has been on for very long. Most of the members are new, so that should be bringing in new ideas.
    17. Paulo: When WM Portugal was facing accusations of an internal conflict, the chapter did not know how to defend itself because they said that they could not share details to protect the identify of the person making complaints. They treated the situation as if there were two equal sides, when actually there was an organization on one side and an individual on the other, and either AffCom or the WMF was not in regular conversation to be able to see what was obvious to the members of the chapter.
    18. Abhinav: That's true. Protecting the identity of whistleblowers is important. However, AffCom should hear the other party before reaching to any understanding, there is a concept in the judiciary called the "law of natural justice".
    19. Pine: I like whenever possible that communities should govern themselves, and people who know more about communities should be more involved in mediation and people who are further from the community.
    20. Lane: Previously the Wikimedia Movement had little money. 10 years ago the entire movement had little money, maybe 5 million dollars globally. Now it has 115 million. Affcom employee is from WMF and not a Wikimedia chapter.
  2. Wikimedia India and Wikimedia Foundation Affiliations Committee
    1. Pine: Abhinav Can you tell about India?
    2. Abhinav: AffCom wanted to have private conversation, and we did, but we did not take notes of that discussion and they did not publish their notes. Katherine and Delphine this week have also responded on the WM India page. Later AffCom asked the same questions and we in WM India said that we only wanted to talk in public on the meta page, because we felt like they were attributing claims to us which either we did not say or which are incorrect. For example, AffCom published an FAQ which said that they derecognized us because we did not respond to them, but our perspective is that they refused to have conversation online in public, and they are claiming that our meeting them privately by audio call was not a sufficient response even though there was no minutes of the meeting recorded, no documention, no professionalism.. We have an active chapter membership which demonstrates all sort of membership and engagement. As with any Wikimedia affiliate, we report our active contributor involvement by showing Dashboard metrics, signups, event pages, and everything else, but somehow they are either doubting our reports, or claiming they have not happened, or they repeatedly ask us to explain the same things again.
    3. Pine: Can you explain the current situation of the chapter? Is it considered suspended? Also, aside from the AffCom official status, what legal status do you have in India?
    4. Abhinav: As you say, the WMF chapter recognition is suspended, but the legal organization has active registration in India.
    5. Pine: I see, and what about charity status?
    6. Abhinav: There is a legal entity, and additionally, that entity has a charity status. It is possible for anyone to access these public records, such as through the Indian "Right to Information" process.
    7. Pine: So what is the problem?
    8. Abhinav: The derecognition happened 14 September and they put further notice at around 20 October. All of this has happened on wiki. They have not sent legal letters to us.
    9. Pine: Why do you think the WMF would not want the India chapter to exist? I hear that many wiki organizations have trouble with AffCom and the WMF, but generally they stay in good standing. I wonder if the right thing is happening in India. Is it the case that multiple people in the WMF are having conversations with people in India and not talking with each other?
    10. Abhinav: India is different from any other country. There is an organization called Centre for Internet and Society CIS in India which gets an APG. CIS is not a membership organization, has no elections, and is not accountable to anyone. The WMF gives a lot of support to CIS. They have not given so much support to the Wikimedia community.
    11. Pine: Can you explain how this relationship came to be?
    12. Lane: CIS is an organization which mostly receives foreign funding, and mostly exists to facilitate foreign nonprofit organizations which want to do programs in India. CIS accepts WMF money and hires employees who will only do programs which the WMF approves. It is not a Wikimedia community organization. They are good because they help the WMF have a base of some operations in India. The drawback is that partnership with CIS does not naturally develop the Wikimedia community relationship. CIS has a place in India because they are stable, but in the longer term, there should be Wikimedia community leadership in India. I think that a measure of the relationship that the WMF has with India is the amount of money that the WMF is able to give to India. I have said before - South is 1/6 or 16% of the world's population, and because everyone in the Wikimedia movement is equal, this region should be getting about 16% of the available community funding. The WMF brings in 100 million a year, so somehow, about 16 million of that should go to South Asia. The actual amount of money which the WMF shares is about 150,000 to CIS and less than 20,000 per year to the rest of the Wikimedia community there. See the financial report on the Wikimedia Cafe talk page.
    13. YR: A week or two ago there was a WMF report of where editors come from. There is only so much that we can do to report a small group of editors. Giving more money may not be the solution because they do not have experience managing money. We cannot just send money to a region without a plan.
    14. Lane: Yes, that is also true, but the time to start growing the relationship with South Asia was 10 years ago. The Wikimedia Foundation has spent lots of money on projects in South Asia, including opening an office there which Jimmy advertised in a video. They have spent much more money on WMF projects in India than they have on community projects in India, and this has not happened anywhere in the world except for India. Also all of the WMF India projects happened in weird ways without much on wiki reporting, community support, and they all ended without ongoing impact.
    15. YR: It is not a good idea to suddenly send money. The community in India is not ready to receive a lot of money. The growth has to happen over time.
    16. Lane: I agree, but there is no public plan for development in India, and already so many years have passed. I think the difference between India and other places is that the WMF does not invest money in India, or when it does, it tries to make big investments in programs run outside of the Wikimedia community. If the Wikimedia Foundation would fund chapters or user groups slowly over time then that would build a representative community base. They might not fund a community group in India for years, and I feel like India is not getting its fair share. How much money do you think WMF should invest?
    17. YR: Not $16 million
      1. Lane: $1 million / year?
      2. YR: I do not know
      3. Lane: US$100,000?
      4. YR: I do not know.
      5. Lane: Do you think they should give something else, like respect, or training, or administrative support?
      6. YR: I do not know.
      7. Lane: I do not know either. I just want wiki community representation in India and money is the kind of respect that foundations are able to give.
    18. Pine: (reads Katherine's statement) - It seems like the WMF plans to support user groups and CIS in India. What is the strategy for WMF in India without the Wikimedia India chapter?
    19. Lane: Yes. Wikimedia India could have been a fiscal sponsor. I just care about money going into India. I do not care if it is through Wikimedia India or through any of the 20 user groups. The problem is that Wikimedia India is a legal nonprofit and has charity status. They had a legal status called FCRA for receiving foreign money which they could get again. If individuals in India receive money from WMF they receive visits from the police or government officials who want bribes. This is disturbing, which is why it is better for individual protection to have money go to a fiscal sponsor instead of to individuals. CIS has this status but they will not be a conventional fiscal sponsor for grants to India. They have their own additional requirements, so if anyone were to receive a WMF grant through them, then CIS would impose additional work beyond just want the usual grant process works. Abhinav, when was the last time Wikimedia India got a grant?
    20. Abhinav: There were problems from the Modi administration since 2014. Maybe that was the last year, or the year after in 2015.
    21. Lane: So see, Wikimedia India has not received money since 2015. I just want money to be able to go into India. I do not care how that happens.
    22. YR: The strategy document indicates that the WMF intends to decentralize power and that should mean that they would have a fiscal sponsor in India.
    23. Lane: If that happens then great, but I am not aware of any plan for that to happen.
    24. Pine: I wonder who we can ask to find out how the WMF intends to fund India. I think Annasuya used to manage this. I think the WMF is in the process to hire a new grants director. I am not sure what the plan is or when it will be.
  3. YR: are you sure the WMF is hiring a grants director? There is no position listed on the job site.
    1. Pine: I saw it there a couple of weeks ago.
    2. YR: I do not see it there now.
    3. Pine: Hmmmm! Maybe they are hiring someone?
  4. Pine: We are near the end of the time. Should we have another meeting about India, in addition to the regularly scheduled Wikimedia Cafe meeting?
    1. Abhinav: Yes, 4 people came earlier, but because of the time mess up, they had to go.
    2. Pine: Okay! If other folks have a topic in mind then please let's discuss it at a future cafe meetup. Let's also set up a meeting in December for discussion about India, which will be a separate discussion from the regular Cafe meeting in December. Final thoughts from anyone?
  5. YR: If we need a topic for a future meeting then I would like to talk about how to edit a wiki page. The amount of stuff which has been added to wiki syntax recently is a lot, and we have not been producing documentation. Onboarding editors is difficult.
    1. - (Clarifying - I was talking more about onboarding to more complicated levels of editing, such as templates with modules, Lua/Vega/Sparql/Templatestyles/Templatedata/Parserfunctions and all the other complicated stuff that barely anyone knows how to use. - YR)
  6. Pine: Okay, I am working on some educational videos which I would like to show, so if we are talking about basics, then that pairs nicely with Yair's suggestion for a discussion topic.