Subchapters

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Subchapters

Kelly Martin-3
One of the problems we have is that the US is much larger than most
other countries with national chapters, and we are probably going to
need to consider establishing regional subchapters.  I do not believe
that having 50 state subchapters is worth doing, at least not until we
get really big.  Initially we probably should have somewhere between 3
and 15 chapters, depending on interest levels, and be prepared to
split chapters as need be.  It would be highly useful for us to get
demographics on where our "interested editors" are so as to better
plan the structure of a US chapter.

Even if we don't initially create subchapters (and we might not) we
should write into our bylaws the ability to create, split, merge, and
dissolve them, because it will come up.

Kelly
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Re: Subchapters

Austin Hair
Texas still reserves the right to split itself into five other states
(but not the right to secede, contrary to popular belief); yet,
non-profit organizations really can't organize themselves that way.
Even a national chapter has to be incorporated in one state or the
other.

I'll say again that a practical solution I favor mirrors the
organization of the WGA, with incorporated entities representing those
either West of the Mississippi or East.  It's a practical compromise
given those who want state chapters (which isn't going to happen
anytime soon, I'll state for the record now) and those who want a
single, national organization (which would be difficult to manage).
In the future, I'd rather subdivide further than go the other way, but
I also don't want to divide our efforts, given how long it's taken us
to get even this far.

Austin
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Re: Subchapters

Robert S. Horning
In reply to this post by Kelly Martin-3
Kelly Martin wrote:

>One of the problems we have is that the US is much larger than most
>other countries with national chapters, and we are probably going to
>need to consider establishing regional subchapters.  I do not believe
>that having 50 state subchapters is worth doing, at least not until we
>get really big.  Initially we probably should have somewhere between 3
>and 15 chapters, depending on interest levels, and be prepared to
>split chapters as need be.  It would be highly useful for us to get
>demographics on where our "interested editors" are so as to better
>plan the structure of a US chapter.
>
>Even if we don't initially create subchapters (and we might not) we
>should write into our bylaws the ability to create, split, merge, and
>dissolve them, because it will come up.
>
>Kelly
>  
>
Honestly, I think one of the big problems facing the creation of
"Wikimedia USA" is a percieved lack of benefits and lack of purpose for
such an organization compared to similar organizations in other
countries.  The most compelling reason seems to be local fundrasing and
local server hosting, both of which are dealt with fairly well by the
main Wikimedia Foundation.  While I can offer some reasons to want to
organize on a more local level within the USA, the effort to create such
a group seems to be much better spent on simply developing the Wikimedia
projects themselves instead.

Mind you, this is not a criticism of those who want to establish
Wikimedia-USA, but something that must be overcome and justified in an
attempt to put together a U.S. chapter.  Rather than trying to come up
with the structure of how the organization would be put together, you
must establish the need for such an organization in the first place.
 This is more than simply a "mission statement", but you must come up
with a "killer app" (to use computer industry jargon) or the one thing
that is so compelling to establish Wikimedia-USA that its purpose far
outstrips any other reason to put the group together.  So far I havn't
seen that.

If all we are doing is organizing a group of people for the sake of
being able to get together and throw parties and do live one-on-one
chats, you don't have the compelling reason to get this put together.
 Yes, there are some "local" projects that can be improved considerably
like updating local information pages on Wikipedia, but that isn't a
"killer app".  A local host for Wikimainia efforts is very borderline as
rationale for putting together such a group, although this is certainly
something that should be done if it is established.

Keep in mind that you must ask for almost all activities like this, what
is something that Wikimedia USA can do, and can do very well, but the
Wikimedia Foundation simply won't or can't do?  If you can answer that
question, the rest of this will fall into place, including
state/regional organizations (or if those are even necessary).  I will
admit there are some activities that the WMF does that could be
"delegated" to Wikimedia USA, but again that doesn't make a compelling
reason to justifiy having it established in the first place.

--
Robert Scott Horning



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Re: Subchapters

Sean Lamb
In reply to this post by Kelly Martin-3
'Twas brillig Sunday 09 July 2006 11:15 pm, when Kelly Martin scrobe:
> One of the problems we have is that the US is much larger than most
> other countries with national chapters, and we are probably going to
> need to consider establishing regional subchapters.  

My first thought on this was to start with the various WikiProjects for states
(I'm active with WikiProject Wisconsin, for example).  It seems reasonable
for smaller and mid-sized states to arrange quarterly or semiannual Meetups
within the state (larger states like Texas or California may have trouble
organizing such events for everyone in the project to attend).  

Reading further, it seems we might be able to organize annual regional Meetups
based on, perhaps, [[en:Template:U.S.Regions]]...  

For comparison, I'm also very active in the National Model Railroad
Association.  That organization holds a national convention at one location
in summer (this year's convention just concluded in Philadelphia, next year
is in Detroit and 2008 is in Anaheim) and one or two annual conventions for
each region located within a city in the region (the Midwest region
convention was in Chicago this year and will be in Muncie, Indiana, next
year).  Local divisions (such as the South Central Wisconsin Division, based
here in Madison) hold monthly meetings normally September through May.

I think for this organization, national conventions and monthly local meetings
are probably out, but we can look somewhat seriously at annual regional
meetings.  The local organizers can usually get space at a local school on a
weekend for cheap (which will often include wireless access); the Madison
school district makes its school gyms available on weekend days for as little
as $25/day, for example.  Our meetings may even be small enough to be
privately hosted at someone's home, further reducing the costs.

--
Sean Lamb, Software Engineer
[[en:User:Slambo]]
"A day without laughter is a day wasted." -- Groucho Marx
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Re: Subchapters

Austin Hair
In reply to this post by Robert S. Horning
The chief responsibility of a Wikimedia chapter is to promote and
pursue Wikimedia interests specific to its country, and as a practical
matter often its entire region.  This includes mobilizing local
members of the community, but also a multitude of other projects that
simply aren't within the scope of the Foundation.

The latest report of Wikimedia Serbia's activities came through my
inbox yesterday, and it's amazing how many unforeseeable things come
up.  They handle them all, however, and so far quite well.  The
eclecticism of an organization such as this makes it difficult to
define a specific scope here and now, but let me address your points
in particular:

"Fundraising" in a chapter context means several things:

* The solicitation of grants and sponsorships in chapters' respective countries
* The collection of money to maintain their organization and fund
their own initiatives
* Proxy solicitation on behalf of the Foundation, a tricky legal issue

Managing donations for the Wikimedia projects will always be the
purview of the Wikimedia Foundation.

It's true that one of the traditional roles of a local chapter,
liaising with local organizations and government entities, is a role
currently handled by the Foundation, and one an American chapter
needn't and perhaps shouldn't replace (or even become involved in).
It's not an all-or-nothing issue, however.

Local hosting isn't a chapter matter, except perhaps for facilitating
donations of hardware and/or rackspace.  Currently, all such donations
are agreements with the Wikimedia Foundation itself, managed by the
Wikimedia server admin staff.  This could change in the future, but
it's hardly the killer app for any chapter.

Austin
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Re: Subchapters

Austin Hair
In reply to this post by Sean Lamb
This is a very Wikipedia-centric viewpoint—in fact, English
Wikipedia-centric.  Wikimedia chapters operate around countries, not
projects or even languages.  (The United States has more
Internet-connected Spanish speakers than probably any other country,
and we could do a lot to help our still-struggling Spanish Wikipedia.)

There are already many WikiProjects and notice boards for American
states and regions, but they don't take the place of a chapter (and
neither will chapters replace them).

Austin
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