Wikimedia LGBT+/Governance/2024-02-04 Leadership retreat

Wikimedia LGBT+ Governance and Leadership Retreat

Sunday 4 February, 2024


  • Jeffrey
  • Owen
  • Paperboy
  • Ayokanmi
  • Lane
  • Dorothy
  • Freddy

Overview and Orientation


Goal: Presentation with an overview of the structure of the User Group and recent activities for new Board members

  • Our community
  • Our content
  • Our administrative resources
  • Our activities
  • Governance
  • Communication

Session: Strengthening Wikimedia LGBT+ Governance


Goal: Consensus-building for group policies and procedures

  • The group had been discussing the formalization of Wikimedia LGBT+ for at least 8 years. This process includes establishing a membership process, a Board, a governance model, and a path to funding which justifies all this administrative labor and planning
  • Current User Group decision makers include:
    • Governance Committee
    • Board
    • On-wiki community consensus process which includes anyone joining in online conversations.
  • Our Board - Defining roles and expectations
    • Appreciate our Board members, and don't want to ask too much volunteer work
    • Board’s central role is providing for ethical oversight on administration. Board members should speak out if there are complaints or suggestions. Board members will be asked to look at grant applications, and spending.
    • Wikimedia LGBT+ has been hosting monthly governance meetings for the past few years.
    • Approved proposal: Monthly governance meetings, Board members expected to join or react to notes of board meetings, but minimum of 4 meetings a year. One big challenge is getting grant applications in order, and that cannot happen in only quarterly meetings.
    • Approved proposal: The Board agreed on a consensus model in the sense that there is no one who blocks a proposal, proposal can proceed, as long as the dissenter is comfortable proceeding and that their objections have been heard
    • Conflict of interest: The Wikimedia community has an expectation that board members declare conflict of interest. We need a process for this. We do not have a process for this.
      • Approved proposal: We will create a conflict of interest declaration form Board members are expected to fill out and to declare any new conflicts of interest on an ongoing basis.
    • Approved proposal: Remove Rachel from the Board (MIA) and public leadership documentation
    • Approved proposal: Appoint 4 to Board now, making a 6 member Board for 2024. Appoint Jeffrey, Owen, Freddy, and 1 other active member requesting privacy to the Board (former Governance Committee members). End of 2024, Board review those positions, 2 being extended, 2 vacancies are put up for election
  • Governance Committee
    • Review the Governance Committee’s ongoing function, define expectations and a term
    • Idea to rename Governance Committee to Advisory Council
    • Idea for future discussion: Board contact people in advisory council Telegram group to see if they still want to participate and send invitations to particular individuals inviting them to be on advisory council.
  • Other leadership questions
    • Questions of democratic organizing and elections have come up in other groups. Managing these concerns should be an ongoing discussion.
    • Anonymous participation in leadership is something that comes up in our group that relates to safety and privacy concerns, such as someone risking doxxing or harassment, or with previous experiences with it. Idea: Board needs to know who is on the Board, public may not need to know the same level of information about Board members. Tabling for future discussion.
  • Communication
    • Make sure Telegram groups are up to date, and review Telegram groups at next Governance meeting



Goal: Consensus-building for long-term nonprofit status strategy

  • We are unincorporated, currently an affiliate of the Wikimedia Foundation, giving a specific required structure related to reporting and accounting
  • We can't currently accept money directly without legal status. Kiwix is our current fiscal sponsor, terms are they get 10% of grants
  • Wikimedia Austria previously managed our grants for the past 3 years, ending January 1, 2024

We have a charter as an official Wikimedia community affiliate, which grants a right to use the Wikipedia logo and to apply for money in the name of Wikipedia Many conversations over several years about gaining legal personality, no consensus reached.

  • We wanted incorporation because it enables opportunities. We hesitate because it is an administrative burden.
  • Governance committee had Dorothy prepare a draft proposal and budget in spring 2023 for incorporating as an "association internationale sans but lucratif" (AISBL, an international non-profit structure with legal personality) in Brussels, Belgium. Proposal was not submitted
  • It is apparent that the organization is already running global programs and there would be benefits to incorporation
  • If we were incorporated, we could be a sub group of other Wikimedia groups. We could also be named as grant partners.

Membership process


Goal: Develop a membership strategy

  • We had our first membership registration period in fall 2023, with about 100 registrations
  • Confirming a membership can help us with grant requests, funders ask for information about who our community is.
  • Challenge - what is membership?
    • As of now, membership means that someone can vote in elections. It is not obvious what we would give to members, which we would not provide to everyone else
    • What can we give them?
      • a membership card?
      • voting rights?
      • other benefits?
      • trusted access to moderated, safe spaces?
  • Membership applications currently closed
    • Question about opening up membership applications again, on a rolling basis?
      • Significant administrative overhead of processing membership applications
      • If we open it up again it will lead to people asking questions and making requests. It is not a mere registry or application process that can be set up and left alone.
    • Approved Proposal: Not to open up applications until there is a decision about the Wikimedia Foundation grant, so we could pay a consultant to manage membership applications

Approved Proposal to draft a statement for Meta, communicate to User Group about the current status of membership

Safe space reports and mediation requests


Goal: Reach consensus about best practices and what needs to be done, review open reports

  • Many problems on Wikimedia platforms
    • Transphobia
    • LGBT+ users globally being blocked, trolled, harassed
    • Disagreements on our own communication channels, such as Telegram that sometimes result in bans and needs to make decisions about community inclusion
    • Disagreements between leadership sometimes resulting in mediation requests
  • Wikimedia LGBT+ and individual members in its governance routinely get complaints. It can be frustrating to receive these requests for support when we have no particular process in place to help people. Wikimedia LGBT+ does not have time / training / labor capacity to offer standard support services for harassment. To even have people look at complaints requires the support service have access to mental health support, which is essential whenever anyone is dedicated to this routine work.
  • Question: Where does safe space fall into the organization mission?
    • One answer: our core value is publishing LGBT+ content which is extremely popular and globally read. *We want to seek funding to make our content better and more accessible. However, as we do this, the Wikimedia community makes frequent and highly emotional requests that we provide safety support services.
  • We have no particular resources to offer. Currently volunteer based and ad-hoc, we try to refer people to WMF Human Rights due to our limited capacity
  • There are other existing Wikimedia community safety services for general use, and sometimes these apply to the LGBT+ community, but frequently these services are hard to access or not a fit for LGBT+ issues.
  • We appointed a safe space committee for Queering Wikipedia 2023, but this was for the conference period only.
  • We have been talking with Wikimedia Foundation Human Rights. It is difficult to determine what this group will and will not do as they do not have documented service offerings. This group says that they provide big-picture infrastructure development for issues like systemic harassment in Wikimedia projects, registering major threats like the arrest of Wikimedia editors for free speech issues in their Wikipedia editing, and speaking on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation to the media.
  • It seems like there are some things that WMF Human Rights will do to help Wikimedia LGBT+, but right now, we are having conversations and plan to meet with WMF Human Rights on an ongoing basis, and define a workflow to communicate with them about crucial issues
  • The Wikimedia Foundation has this program to receive certain kinds of complaints: Incident Reporting System. Some of this fits with Wikimedia LGBT+ but much of it does not.
  • One answer: Regardless of what we want membership to be, people who are not active in Wikimedia LGBT+ administration have an expectation that we provide support to people who complain of anti-LGBT+ attacks in the Wikimedia platform. That is an important issue, and we want to do something about it, but we do not want it to be an advertised member benefit. Addressing harassment is expensive, and we have no expertise for this, and it continuously consumes resources. We do not have any budget or volunteer labor to direct to this right now.
  • Approved Proposal: Set a deadline for deciding next steps for defining membership and processing membership requests, possibly in the next 3-6 months
  • Approved Proposal: Until we have capacity to handle safe space complaints, we should be publicly clear about our lack of resources to allocate towards receiving complaints, and direct them to paid staff at the Wikimedia Foundation, namely the WMF Human Rights Team or Wikimedia Foundation Trust and Safety.
  • Idea: What about creating a stock response we could copy-paste that is workshopped with WMF Human Rights?
  • Idea: Can we track incoming requests and issues to help us understand the problems faced?
    • It would help us to have a spreadsheet of reports. But once we start tracking information, we have a moral, potentially legal requirement to do something
    • Reports received tracking sheet suggestion: No names taken, Date, Language of request, About Wiki project or space of issue, Where they were referred
    • We would need clear documentation of what we could offer before we put something out there
  • With WMF Universal Code of Conduct, we need to demonstrate and document that we are meeting the requirements, we need to demonstrate that we are attempting to address complaints even while not having an answer
  • We submitted an open source program grant funding proposal to a call in summer 2023, which was titled, "Wikimedia LGBT+ Conflict Transformation Initiative". We did not get funding but it is one model for getting third-party assessment for harassment in Wikipedia.

Fiscal planning + Accounting


Goal: Clarify accounting workflows and budget

  • We have ongoing routine expenses.
    • Processing invoices, grant writing, reports, community management
    • A major expense is Spanish/English interpretation and translation. This is essential for relations between the English speaking and Spanish speaking LGBT+ communities, and has been working well to keep up relations.
  • Current available funds
    • A new accounting sheet is being created
    • Group will work on 6 month budget for available funds



Goal: Create plan of action for 2024 General Support Fund Application and review status of other grant proposals

  • One priority is getting the March 2024 grant application out to the Wikimedia Foundation General Support Fund. Some paid development is required.
    • March 2024 Wikimedia Community Fund, General Support Fund application
    • North America Funding Region: Due March 8, 2024
    • General ask range is US $50,000-$150,000
    • Clarify grant writer/contractor role
    • Involving our community to provide feedback is a long-term goal, process needed
  • Our previous, 2023 Wikimedia Community Fund, General Support Fund application, submitted fall 2023
  • Helping Spanish LGBT+ group apply for funding in their region
    • Interest in working with Spanish Wikimedia LGBT+ group to work on a grant request for Wiki Loves Pride for editing prizes