Wikimedia Chapters Association/Meetings/First Meeting/Candidacy Interim Secretary General & Deputy

Hello all,

Now that the budget draft is published and all the tasks I wanted to complete before Wikimania are done I am putting myself for your vote for the interim Secretary General position.

In the past couple of days I've been implicitly criticised for not publishing and sharing enough. While I believe that some of this critique is a sad result of how elections are done I accept that in the past month and a half I wasn't as communicative as in the beginning of the process. This has many reasons. One of them is indeed a flaw I have, I am less a man of words and more of actions. The latency in some replies was also due to the nature of the organisational structure of an equal-powered committee we chose to practice. After experiencing this and reading the relevant literature (and especially the PHD thesis of Dr. Lior Zoref on crowdsourcing) I now know that the wisdom of the crowds is excellent in producing knowledge but less in decision making. To do so, someone has to take the lead so a discussion comes to a close while still taking everyone's opinion into consideration. Allowing everyone to participate, hearing and weighting different opinions is one of the things I want to put emphasis on in this next phase of the WCA.

Yet, being in the lead position is an excellent way to become a "know-it-all" kind of person. This is why I offered Delphine Ménard to act as the Interim Deputy Secretary General. Delphine is a long time contributor to our movement. Her skills and views are exactly what is needed in this position. She has been on the board of two chapters and is now the treasurer of WMDE, who's budget has similarities to the budget that will be required for the association. She also has an intimate knowledge of chapters, chapters to be, chapters processes and chapter coordination, having served as Chapter Coordinator and as a long-time member of the Chapters Committee.

Delphine and I do not always see eye-to-eye as to how the WCA should look like, but we do know that Our mixture of ideas will lead to solid results. We are also committed to the spirit and ideas that underly the creation of the WCA. During our discussion on this we agreed on the following:

  • The WCA must be up and running by the end of the year. Once the council approve a place of registration for the WCA we will move to registering it and approve and a procedure for the hiring of the SG.
  • We will work on securing the budget required for the WCA through discussion with the chapters and the WMF.
  • We will work with those chapters who have not yet made their decision to join the WCA to do so and choose their representatives.
  • We will plan a meeting toward the end of the year where the council will select a full-term secretary-general and will step down, knowing that we have put the infrastructure to what is going to be the future of Wikimedia chapters.

To facilitate this and address the critique heard, we will be looking at using some of the resources put by chapters at the disposal of the WCA to put in place the necessary steps to facilitate communication with chapters, chapters representatives and the community. We are committed to transparency where transparency is needed and have agreed to work on reporting regularly but also hold discussions, where wide input is needed, where everyone can contribute.

I would also like to present to you the things that have been done so far:

  • As you can see on this page ( on Meta, most chapters had decided to join the association.
  • A budget draft was published on Meta. While I agree that it was published late, it is still a longer notice than what we had when we came to Berlin to discuss the charter. Obviously, this is not an excuse and much effort should be done to avoid this in the future. I take full blame for it.
  • We have a description for the SG position published on meta and we already contacted two agencies who have given us a quota for their hiring services.
  • We have a draft for the council's standing orders published on meta. While some have argued that this has less importance I insist that in a multicultural movement like ours, everyone have different ideas when hearing the same words. A detailed contract between the parties is the best way to have everybody aligned, also knowing what others think.
  • The first WCA meeting is going to be held on time despite schedule and representation difficulties. It was designed so that it maximises the participation given the constrains. No better result could have been achieved on this.

As an aside, it is easy to see the email exchange between Sebastian and me as a personal rivalry, this is far from being true. This is a conflict between two different views on sharing, cooperation, decision making, facilitating diversity of ideas and classes of chapters in our movement. I believe we need more time to achieve better results, and I hope that this view will have the upper hand during the council's meeting.

Delphine and I cannot be present at the meeting tomorrow, which makes things a bit awkward. Rest assured that the reasons that keep us away from this important meeting do not in any way reflect on our motivation or commitment to make things happen and to work with all of you for the success of the WCA. Delphine will be arriving tomorrow afternoon in Washington and will answer any question you might have concerning our candidacy. I am available online for discussion as well. Just to clarify, we intend to do this work as volunteers, and are clear that this is an interim position. Neither of us has any intention to step up to apply for the long-term paid positions of Secretary General or Deputy Secretary General when the time comes.

Thank you for your attention. Make the meeting tomorrow as productive as can be, this is a unique opportunity to make things go forward.


Tomer Ashur