[Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

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[Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

jmh649
"The WCA is lead by the council, who are all volunteers. They will be
supported by staff, but the council are in charge."

I would love to have my Wikipedia work supported by staff too. Who is
paying for said staff? How much are they projected to cost? In fact I
would simply like some of the travel costs and accommodations for
those involved in my Wikipedia projects covered. I am happy to cover
my own costs.

We have a second draft budget here
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Chapters_Association/Draft_budget_2012-2013
at more than $300,000

We have $42,000 going to a translator / PR person? I have managed to
find translators for more than 30 languages which have translated more
than 1 million words in 2012 as part of this project
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Medicine/Translation_task_force
Most translation on Wikipedia is done by volunteers. Why is
translation for this organization deem more important than say for key
medical diseases?

I see that in the second draft the funding for the SG has decreased
from 96000 euro to 60000 euro. I think the number I am looking for is
around zero, we are an organization run on volunteers. The World
Health Organization is willing to have a Wikipedian in Residence. I
have found someone who will do it for free / the experience of working
at the WHO but he needs some help covering his expenses. The person is
willing to work full time to do out reach to 600 interns at the WHO
who are usually young leaders in their respective medical communities
from around the world.

With respect to the law firm costs of $30,000. That is a lot for
supporting collaboration between chapters. With respect to $10,000 for
a chapters network / skype? But skype is free and we already have
meta. It is inexpensive to set up a website.

--
James Heilman
MD, CCFP-EM, Wikipedian

The Wikipedia Open Textbook of Medicine
www.opentextbookofmedicine.com

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

Thomas Dalton
On 6 February 2013 23:31, James Heilman <[hidden email]> wrote:
> "The WCA is lead by the council, who are all volunteers. They will be
> supported by staff, but the council are in charge."
>
> I would love to have my Wikipedia work supported by staff too.

It is... who do you think keeps the servers you use running?

> Who is
> paying for said staff? How much are they projected to cost? In fact I
> would simply like some of the travel costs and accommodations for
> those involved in my Wikipedia projects covered. I am happy to cover
> my own costs.

There are plenty of grants programmes operated by the WMF and chapters
that will fund travel and accommodation for Wikimedians. Go ahead and
apply...

As for who will pay for the WCA staff, that is very much up in the air
at the moment... it was thought they might be funded through the FDC,
but that seems unlikely now. So I guess the funds will come from the
chapters in some way or another.

> We have a second draft budget here
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Chapters_Association/Draft_budget_2012-2013
> at more than $300,000

That is also not an approved budget and, from what I can tell, is just
the idea of one person and is not intended to be representative of the
views of the council. It's been sitting there for 6 months without
having been approved, so I think you can interpret that as implicitly
rejected.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

Fæ
In reply to this post by jmh649
Hi James,

I added "REJECTED" several times to that page yesterday, just to make
the situation clear. Based on your email, I have now made that word
big and red so there can be no mistake by anyone when they land on the
page.

Doing an analysis and lambasting the Chapters Association for a
concept document that the majority of the Council Members quickly
rejected, is a bit of a waste of your time. Certainly I have
absolutely no interest in defending this document, as I was personally
unconvinced by it (though grateful for the volunteers that worked on it
in good faith), and spent hardly any time reviewing it when it was
presented.

Thanks,
Fae
--
Ashley Van Haeften (Fae) [hidden email]
Chapters Association Council Chair http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/WCA
Guide to email tags: http://j.mp/mfae

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

Thomas Dalton
The first draft was rejected - James is talking about Theo's draft.
Was that also explicitly rejected?

On 6 February 2013 23:47, Fae <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hi James,
>
> I added "REJECTED" several times to that page yesterday, just to make
> the situation clear. Based on your email, I have now made that word
> big and red so there can be no mistake by anyone when they land on the
> page.
>
> Doing an analysis and lambasting the Chapters Association for a
> concept document that the majority of the Council Members quickly
> rejected, is a bit of a waste of your time. Certainly I have
> absolutely no interest in defending this document, as I was personally
> unconvinced by it (though grateful for the volunteers that worked on it
> in good faith), and spent hardly any time reviewing it when it was
> presented.
>
> Thanks,
> Fae
> --
> Ashley Van Haeften (Fae) [hidden email]
> Chapters Association Council Chair http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/WCA
> Guide to email tags: http://j.mp/mfae
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

jmh649
In reply to this post by jmh649
The one I am referring to is labeled "Second draft".

--
James Heilman
MD, CCFP-EM, Wikipedian

The Wikipedia Open Textbook of Medicine
www.opentextbookofmedicine.com

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

Markus Glaser-2
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
Am 07.02.2013 00:50, schrieb Thomas Dalton:
> The first draft was rejected - James is talking about Theo's draft.
> Was that also explicitly rejected?
>
Let's put it that way: it was not considered for approval by the WCA
Council. That says nothing about the quality of Theo's draft, though. We
decided to focus on the place of incorporation first. While I personally
did not think that's the top priority, it was considered to be by a lot
of Council members. The order of issues to decide on was: place of
incorporation, SG, budget. We had indication that the income side was
secured enough to employ an SG and develop a budget together with
her/him within the first half year.

Best,
Markus

--
Markus Glaser
WCA Council Member (WMDE)
Wikimedia Deutschland e.V.


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

Fæ
Thank you for putting it so well Markus. I have now emphasised the
existing word REJECTED in bold and red on that second table too.

Thanks,
Fae
--
Ashley Van Haeften (Fae) [hidden email]
Chapters Association Council Chair http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/WCA
Guide to email tags: http://j.mp/mfae
Personal and confidential. Unless otherwise stated, do not copy, quote
or forward this email for any reason without permission.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

theo10011
In reply to this post by jmh649
I would appreciate it if you not start this discussion with conflating my
recommendations and removing the context completely. First, there is a talk
page attached, it would be highly advisable to read that clarification and
context of why I chose what. Second, my second draft at the time was
reactionary to the one you see first by Delphine (user:notafish) which
started with appropriating 96,000 euros as the salary for this SG and
totaled close to half a million euros. I made my feelings known at the time
here[1] and elsewhere on the page and lists repeatedly.

The context that you are probably missing which I mentioned at the time was
that, it was premature to work on this budget without laying the
groundwork, my second draft mostly revised the figures downward to the bare
minimum, and it was limited by things like minimum wage laws and legal
requirements. As I recall it was met with disapproval in the private
discussions as "too low", I have no idea about the following discussion as
I disengaged soon after that point.

I still stand by my version of the budget - it had around 60,000 euros for
direct chapter development and spending on actual programs (like WLM or
GLAM-related outreach), salaries for 3 full time employees, 2 part-time
consultant and their associated travel costs. As mentioned by others and on
the page, it was a premature budget draft - if you or anyone feels they can
do better and still maintain the legal minimum for the
incorporated geography - by all means, go ahead.


On Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 9:31 PM, James Heilman <[hidden email]> wrote:

> "The WCA is lead by the council, who are all volunteers. They will be
> supported by staff, but the council are in charge."
>
> I would love to have my Wikipedia work supported by staff too. Who is
> paying for said staff? How much are they projected to cost? In fact I
> would simply like some of the travel costs and accommodations for
> those involved in my Wikipedia projects covered. I am happy to cover
> my own costs.
>

As am I, and several others here. You are clearly conflating the objectives
of the two. One is volunteer editing work, the other is facilitating and
promoting the said work and idea. Projects with institutions, GLAMS,
outreach - cost money, they require support. Your argument seems to be
directed more towards the implicit nature of chapters vs. editors - I
suggest you start with the biggest one with a staff that actually fits your
classification.


>
> We have a second draft budget here
>
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Chapters_Association/Draft_budget_2012-2013
> at more than $300,000
>
> We have $42,000 going to a translator / PR person? I have managed to
> find translators for more than 30 languages which have translated more
> than 1 million words in 2012 as part of this project
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Medicine/Translation_task_force
> Most translation on Wikipedia is done by volunteers. Why is
> translation for this organization deem more important than say for key
> medical diseases?
>

Actually the 42,000 is for the PR/media-person who would be doing double
duty and filling in for chapter support and overseeing translations, based
in Belgium, which again would have to be above the minimum wage and close
to the industry average. Perhaps you would like to consider the spending
WMF or a large chapter like WMDE, even WMUK has towards this role and
compare them.


>
> I see that in the second draft the funding for the SG has decreased
> from 96000 euro to 60000 euro. I think the number I am looking for is
> around zero, we are an organization run on volunteers. The World
> Health Organization is willing to have a Wikipedian in Residence. I
> have found someone who will do it for free / the experience of working
> at the WHO but he needs some help covering his expenses. The person is
> willing to work full time to do out reach to 600 interns at the WHO
> who are usually young leaders in their respective medical communities
> from around the world.
>

It would be helpful if you dont start conflating the two worlds. You can
look through Meta to see several chapters have or have had employees who
are paid much more for the top position.

At this point, I understand that your work is primarily in the capacity of
a volunteer, it is not your day-job. What that budget is referring to, is
hiring employees. You are repeatedly comparing your work with what people
do during the day from 9 to 5. I believe you have a job in some capacity,
try and compare those numbers with your industry, and averages.

If you employ someone on a daily basis, I believe there exists a law in the
developed countries whereby you have to pay them a legal minimum - I
believe its called the Minimum wage. The other alternative is hiring people
and making them work daily, sometimes against their will, from 9 to 5, but
it had another term back in the day - slavery. I believe that is still
frowned upon.


>
> With respect to the law firm costs of $30,000. That is a lot for
> supporting collaboration between chapters. With respect to $10,000 for
> a chapters network / skype? But skype is free and we already have
> meta. It is inexpensive to set up a website.


Really? 30,000 is a lot for an year long consultation and retainer for a
law firm? The law firm is or was supposed to look over contracts, documents
and agreements of 40 other organizations in different languages and be
available to all 40 of those organizations if needed. Please feel free to
add a lower quote if you have one.


-Theo

[1]
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:Wikimedia_Chapters_Association/Draft_budget_2012-2013#Personnel_Budget
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

jmh649
In reply to this post by jmh649
Okay usually when one comes up with a new idea for something the
expectation is that it will be stated clearly what problem this new
idea will solve and how it will solve it.

Here is the list of potential tasks set for the WCA
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Chapters_Association/Tasks

Why do any of these need paid staff to complete them rather than
volunteers? Why do they deserve paid staff any more than the dozens of
other issues that we have that are at least equally important? In fact
no paid staff is requested for any of the tasks set forth.

A lot of "facilitating and promoting said work and idea"s of volunteer
is done by volunteers. And IMO should continue to be done by
volunteers. So am not conflating the two.

With respect to "The law firm is supposed to look over contracts,
documents and agreements of 40 other organizations" Only 21 have
signed up. Where does the number 40 come from? And why do all these
organizations need documents looked over more? We have managed to find
free lawyers for both Wikimedia Canada and Wiki Project Med Foundation
and we managed to incorporate both as volunteers.

With respect to "If you employ someone on a daily basis" This is the
issue. I am not convinced we should employ someone on a daily basis
for this work as it is presented. Wikipedia is not a fancy shiny
project, we are not Google or Microsoft. We are a rag tag group of
"amateurs" trying to do something amazing. We do not need shiny
offices, in cities of global importance, we do not need to fly around
the world with important titles.

So with respect to a budget I would consider in the range of $25,000
to me more appropriate. No actual office. No paid staff. Some funding
to cover limited travel for volunteers interested in taking on this
work. Collaboration taking place on meta. Efforts to improve meta.
Some free google accounts. The use of skype for meeting (which is also
free). Most work taking place virtually. The use of volunteers and
google translate to translate stuff. This organization of volunteers
acting as a consultant as I know my chapter is not looking for anyone
to tell us what to do.
--
James Heilman
MD, CCFP-EM, Wikipedian

The Wikipedia Open Textbook of Medicine
www.opentextbookofmedicine.com

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

theo10011
On Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 11:25 PM, James Heilman <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Okay usually when one comes up with a new idea for something the
> expectation is that it will be stated clearly what problem this new
> idea will solve and how it will solve it.
>

Well, I don't know what to say. I had an idea in mind when I first wrote
the draft for the council, then it got contorted into something and then
something else, and I have barely been involved in the process for around
an year, partly against my will then willingly.


>
> Here is the list of potential tasks set for the WCA
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Chapters_Association/Tasks


I wasn't involved in that task list, so better the people who wrote that,
answer that.


>
> Why do any of these need paid staff to complete them rather than
> volunteers? Why do they deserve paid staff any more than the dozens of
> other issues that we have that are at least equally important? In fact
> no paid staff is requested for any of the tasks set forth.
>

Why don't you start by asking those questions to WMF, then WMDE then WMUK
and any other chapter filing a budget with FDC. This organization just had
the bare minimum personnel spending it needed to accomplish the goals at
the time, but as the Dylan song went, things have changed....


>
> A lot of "facilitating and promoting said work and idea"s of volunteer
> is done by volunteers. And IMO should continue to be done by
> volunteers. So am not conflating the two.
>

So WMF doesn't facilitate and promote anything? how about any of the
chapters?Do you believe the last few wikimedian-in-residence, or
GLAM-outreach, or WLM, or hundreds of remote outreach events didn't have
anyone facilitating them? this can include Wikimania, hackathons and tons
of events half of us haven't heard of. They were done by volunteers of
course, but they were supported, backed, evaluated by paid staff members.
I'll be happy to go in detail and point you to several budgets on Meta if
you like.


>
> With respect to "The law firm is supposed to look over contracts,
> documents and agreements of 40 other organizations" Only 21 have
> signed up. Where does the number 40 come from? And why do all these
> organizations need documents looked over more? We have managed to find
> free lawyers for both Wikimedia Canada and Wiki Project Med Foundation
> and we managed to incorporate both as volunteers.
>

The number of chapters at the time of my involvement was 38 or 39, some
organization including yours were approved in the following period. I took
the liberty and rounded up. The 40 were envisioned at the time when I wrote
the original draft idea for the council (WCA), I have no idea why it is 21.

I am glad that you have been able to find free lawyers in Canada. I don't
think you should expect that everyone is as fortunate or comes from an
affluent country with relevant contacts. It wasn't a leap to have at least
a single legal expert on call for 40 organizations using the trademark and
name Wikipedia and Wikimedia. My recommendation was based from experience
of watching chapters have occasional legal issues and problems all over the
world, mostly Europe and Asia. WMF can not always be expected to help or
bail out every editor and every organization in 40 countries carrying our
name. It would only be an asset to have a local expert on the ground.


>
> With respect to "If you employ someone on a daily basis" This is the
> issue. I am not convinced we should employ someone on a daily basis
> for this work as it is presented. Wikipedia is not a fancy shiny
> project, we are not Google or Microsoft. We are a rag tag group of
> "amateurs" trying to do something amazing. We do not need shiny
> offices, in cities of global importance, we do not need to fly around
> the world with important titles.
>

It's a viable point, and I partly agree with it. But the comparison I would
offer is this- this is or was, supposed to be a support organization for 40
chapters, some of them had budgets that were nearing or over 1 million USD.
They had several staff members, support personnel - how can you expect a
back-office, support organization for 40 chapters that was envisioned to be
self-sufficient some day, be smaller than the first 5 or 10 chapters they
were supporting.

BTW that entire "rag tag group of amateurs doing something amazing",
doesn't hold very true indefinitely  We were doing something amazing when
we started, but we're really not amateurs anymore. The editing community is
still isolated from some of the recent spending and support but it has only
been increasing and increasing for the last decade. Look at the recent
budgets, look at the spending, the chapter spending, the programs, the
infrastructure- while its not as close to a typical top 10 nternet
property, it's not exactly a rag tag bunch of amateurs either.


>
> So with respect to a budget I would consider in the range of $25,000
> to me more appropriate. No actual office. No paid staff. Some funding
> to cover limited travel for volunteers interested in taking on this
> work. Collaboration taking place on meta. Efforts to improve meta.
> Some free google accounts. The use of skype for meeting (which is also
> free). Most work taking place virtually. The use of volunteers and
> google translate to translate stuff. This organization of volunteers
> acting as a consultant as I know my chapter is not looking for anyone
> to tell us what to do.
>

Well, 25000 (USD or CAN) might actually be close to minimum wage for
Belgium or Switzerland but ok. But it's not for you to decide what is
appropriate. There can be 100 different opinions about this matter and all
be right at the same time. You are still talking like this is all done in a
volunteer's capacity. This was supposed to be a small support organization
for others.

And I know your chapter might not be looking for anyone to tell you what to
do, but please let others decide on what and how they want to work. Every
chapter's program would reflect what kind of support they would need.

BTW the whole skype spending that you keep pointing to, if you would read
the associated talk page was a program to link all chapters with
professional videoconferencing abilities with WMF. This was to ameliorate
some of the travel spending in the first place. The amount you saw was
actually for professional videoconferencing equipment while starting with
free skype accounts first, and making the switch on an ongoing basis as who
needed it.

-Theo
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

Nathan Awrich
>
> >
>
> It's a viable point, and I partly agree with it. But the comparison I would
> offer is this- this is or was, supposed to be a support organization for 40
> chapters, some of them had budgets that were nearing or over 1 million USD.
> They had several staff members, support personnel - how can you expect a
> back-office, support organization for 40 chapters that was envisioned to be
> self-sufficient some day, be smaller than the first 5 or 10 chapters they
> were supporting.
>
>
I'm more inclined to criticize the budget and spending priorities of the
WMF, to tell the truth. The various budgets for the WCA primarily went
wrong in assuming that the WMF itself would provide the cash, a truly odd
plan given the role the WCA's boosters saw for it. My own opinion is that
it was that intermediary, adversary role (which one person recently
compared to a union opposing corporate interests) that doomed the WCA. But
there is a good point to make about the envisioned support role. It's
difficult to understand how a single lawyer, or a single firm, was intended
to provide legal support of any utility to chapters in 40 countries. And
pitching the WCA's level of professionalism at a degree to where it could
help out the largest chapters seems like an odd strategy, when it's the
smallest and newest that would need the kind of help the WCA could provide.

As a lot of other people have said, there is clearly a role out there for a
support organization that helps chapters develop. But I don't think the
WCA, as it has been modeled, is the right organization for that role. I
don't know if it is the people who were involved at various points, or the
environment in the movement at the time a formal body was proposed, but the
attitude and approach for the WCA has been wrong for a long time and the
WMF is right to not support the current incarnation.

~Nathan
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

theo10011
Hey Nathan

On Thu, Feb 7, 2013, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:

> >
> I'm more inclined to criticize the budget and spending priorities of the
> WMF, to tell the truth. The various budgets for the WCA primarily went
> wrong in assuming that the WMF itself would provide the cash, a truly odd
> plan given the role the WCA's boosters saw for it. My own opinion is that
> it was that intermediary, adversary role (which one person recently
> compared to a union opposing corporate interests) that doomed the WCA. But
> there is a good point to make about the envisioned support role. It's
> difficult to understand how a single lawyer, or a single firm, was intended
> to provide legal support of any utility to chapters in 40 countries. And
> pitching the WCA's level of professionalism at a degree to where it could
> help out the largest chapters seems like an odd strategy, when it's the
> smallest and newest that would need the kind of help the WCA could provide.
>


Your evaluation might be correct about the time. But initially even the
spending was expected to come from the chapter budget, then some changes
happened, others got involved, FDC was also created and direct support
became the only revenue source. I believe Sebmol and I might have discussed
it to be an x%(nominal close to 2 or 4%) of a chapter revenue on our
singular IRC talk. I'm sure that in the last year a sizable chunk of the
budget has been burnt through, that could/should have gone to actually
creating this organization.

As you may read a single law firm was only supposed to be the initial
amount. Based on my proximity with chapter affairs at the time, my
judgement was that most issues, would not require a lot of billable hours.
And I only saw 4 or 5 chapters have any of those minor issues in a given
year. That amount was never supposed to cover 40 organizations in the first
year, but at least have someone on the ground to support. Any professional
organization would be expected to have insurance, legal compliance,
external support and lastly bankruptcy protection laws at its disposal. It
was for the smaller organizations that might need someone to occasionally
inform them about their rights or just correspond with WMF's legal dept.
for them. If you would take a look at the draft again, there was someone
else helping out with translation services on staff, combined with our
local contacts - I thought it could offer a first line of defense or a
safety-net in case WMF chose not to get involved and risk its own exposure.

Then there was someone envisioned for accounting who would follow up on
chapter reports and spending, and make sure there is full compliance. This
alone might justify the required cost-saving WMF would have, for the
back-office support it does for chapters and the compliance requirements by
law. This was a big concern at the time when I met Stu and talked with some
of the board members.

There were a lot of great ideas floating around. Asia, more specifically
India has had a lot of issues, but the highest concentration of chapters is
in europe but there is no one with local expertise available - little
co-ordination. One of the ideas at the time (might have been from John
Vandenberg) was to support chapters by region, the requirements for Asian
chapters would never mix with those of europeans (not to mention everyone
just loved the Iberocoop chapters, and it was a good model to follow).
Considering WMF has tried and prob. spent 10 times the proposed WCA budget
in India alone, and MENA region might be nearing half or more - a future
strategy might have been to focus on regional growth, rather than direct
involvement or more offices.


> As a lot of other people have said, there is clearly a role out there for a
> support organization that helps chapters develop. But I don't think the
> WCA, as it has been modeled, is the right organization for that role. I
> don't know if it is the people who were involved at various points, or the
> environment in the movement at the time a formal body was proposed, but the
> attitude and approach for the WCA has been wrong for a long time and the
> WMF is right to not support the current incarnation.


Agreed. That is a fair assessment. I'm just explaining what it was
originally supposed to be, it is far from that now.

Regards
Theo
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

Sarah-128
In reply to this post by theo10011
On Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 7:59 PM, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:

> BTW that entire "rag tag group of amateurs doing something amazing",
> doesn't hold very true indefinitely  We were doing something amazing when
> we started, but we're really not amateurs anymore. The editing community is
> still isolated from some of the recent spending and support but it has only
> been increasing and increasing for the last decade. Look at the recent
> budgets, look at the spending, the chapter spending, the programs, the
> infrastructure- while its not as close to a typical top 10 nternet
> property, it's not exactly a rag tag bunch of amateurs either.
>
> The more people are paid, the more editors we lose (or the fewer we
attract), in part because they wonder why they're writing for free for an
organization that pays people to do other things.

So I agree with Doc James that it would be great if the focus on payment
could be reversed a little. Or else spread some money around the editing
community in ways that won't cause COI problems.

But as things stand, we ought to assume that the growth of the paid
bureaucracy and the shrinking of the volunteer editor community might be
connected.

Sarah
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

theo10011
On Thu, Feb 7, 2013, Sarah <[hidden email]> wrote:

> > The more people are paid, the more editors we lose (or the fewer we
> attract), in part because they wonder why they're writing for free for an
> organization that pays people to do other things.
>

I don' think anyone has been paid by WMF to edit......yet?

There might be a correlation in there somewhere, but it might also be a
small factor when you consider some of the research WMF repeatedly
generates. There is also the divide between reader and editors, things like
conversion ratio, plus the older community came up at a different time. I
think the argument these days is, WMF pays so editors don't have to do
those "other things"- either way, not my argument to make. This was just
about being a responsible parent organization and looking after those that
carry its name, rather than about individual editors.


>
> So I agree with Doc James that it would be great if the focus on payment
> could be reversed a little. Or else spread some money around the editing
> community in ways that won't cause COI problems.
>

Completely agreed. This just isn't the way, I'm always surprised how the
most active part of our community is completely insulated from the majority
of governance issues and most of the direct spending.

I think there was an idea to start micro-grants and support some tool
developments directly by community members (faster, smarter bots!), maybe
more grants and scholarships related to editing work rather than reflecting
a diverse or an international base, but I digress.


> But as things stand, we ought to assume that the growth of the paid
> bureaucracy and the shrinking of the volunteer editor community might be
> connected.
>

I hope not.

Just for the record, I have no idea what WCA is now in its current
incarnation. It is definitely too bureaucratic for me.

Regards
Theo
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

Dariusz Jemielniak-3
In reply to this post by theo10011
hi Theo,


On Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 2:59 AM, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Why don't you start by asking those questions to WMF, then WMDE then WMUK
>  and any other chapter filing a budget with FDC. This organization just had
> the bare minimum personnel spending it needed to accomplish the goals at
> the time, but as the Dylan song went, things have changed....
>

my personal view is that at some stage of development staff indeed does add
value and is necessary for more complex operations. From this point of
view, it is clear that international collaboration, best practices sharing,
cross-border initiatives, etc. (all primarily within the scope of interest
of WCA or any other organization addressing it) do or soon will need some
structure and probably staff support.

So, all in all, the question is not whether in our movement as a whole we
can rely only and exclusively on volunteers - we know in some things we
can't, and in some it creates more challenges than savings. The question is
whether the problems WCA is going to address can be addressed by already
existing structures (e.g. by relying on one of the already existing
chapters - after all, WCA could be a subproject in an existing budget, and
still be managed by the council for all practical purposes, the issue of
incorporation is a matter of bureaucracy rather than of actual
initiatives fulfillment). If the new structures need to be created (and I
understand there has been quite a bit of thought given to the issue and
legal, accounting and incorporating costs are considered inevitable), the
community at large should probably be given a strong, plausible and
persuasive rationale for this, and also consulted in a typically wikimedic
manner. Instead, the serious wide discussion on WCA starts only now, after
the Board's statement.

The way I understood WCA idea the first time I heard about it was, among
others, reducing bureaucracy, and increasing openness and transparency of
actions. So far, at least on the surface level, the structures dominate
over the actual serving the community (there is a council, there's been a
long process of choosing a place to incorporate supported by professional
consultant(s), there is a secretary general being hired; but there is no
roadmap of what is going to be actually done yet). It may be just a passing
stage, but this is how it looks for now and possibly casts a shadow over
the whole project. Also, the openness and transparency are probably not the
strongest points of the initiative. There is a closed mailing list for
discussions, decision-making is not fully conducted with the input of the
community at large. I understand there may be good reasons for keeping your
strategy closed. I also understand that WCA council/managing board  feels
empowered to represent the participating chapter representatives, the
chapter representatives do feel empowered to represent the chapters, and
the chapters feel empowered to represent the local communities they serve.
But all this, while typical for regular organizations, is not so usual in
Wikimedia movement. Three layers of representation distance the initiative
from regular editors - even more it is needed to consult and discuss the
actions and decisions with the community. I know that WMF was often
 criticized in the past for being too distant from the community in its
planning, too hierarchical, or too bureaucratic - perhaps this could be a
lesson that all stakeholders in Wikimedia movement could learn from, and
actively oppose the detachment in their own business. Openness, minimal
hierarchy, flexibility, goals before structures - these are the values I'd
typically associate with Wikimedia.



> Well, 25000 (USD or CAN) might actually be close to minimum wage for
> Belgium or Switzerland but ok. But it's not for you to decide what is
> appropriate. There can be 100 different opinions about this matter and all
> be right at the same time.
>

Here's the thing: it is difficult to relate to this argumentation when the
community at large has not been offered a possibility to discuss the place
of incorporation, right? Even in Europe there is plenty of countries where
the minimum wage from Switzerland (not existing, AFAIK, but nevermind)  may
be way more than enough to cover the exact same expenses and leave quite a
lot for the others. Why Belgium or Switzerland and not Hungary, Czech
Republic, or Bulgaria? You don't even have to have a strong Wikimedia
chapter in a given country to start operating, what you may need though is
reducing costs whenever possible without a loss to quality, and also to a
lesser extent sending the right message (reaching out across borders,
etc.). Again, I totally understand that Belgium or Switzerland have been
chosen after careful consideration, but the process has not been
transparent and you cannot expect the outcome to be widely accepted and
unquestioned just on the face value. Just saying that "it's not for you to
decide what is appropriate" will not win WCA any community support, while
sharing the reasons for the choices may help build credibility for the
idea.

A similar issue: we've been discussing a number of times two rejected
drafts of WCA budgets. What we have not seen is the actual approved budget
that WCA wants to operate on. In the same time a secretary general is being
hired. It may be my professional bias, or the fact that I don't know WCA
strategy, but I find it at least unusual to start staffing prior to making
plans, strategies, and final budgeting, simply because staff is usually
meant to support concrete initiatives (and it would seem that you believe
this is the purpose for staffing, too). What are those initiatives and why
is there no budget, nor a strategic plan ready? If they are ready, why have
they not been discussed with the community?  Asking about this is not meant
to be overly inquisitive, I'm honestly trying to figure out how it is meant
to work in your view and why it makes financial sense.

I really, really, really would like to see WCA, or a similar initiative,
work - simply because I think our movement needs it direly. But I think I'm
not the only one out here who is surprised by the turn of events, the lack
of discussion or at least detailed reasoning, etc. If you believe that
there is some value in community support at all, now it would be a good
time to work on it. I'm pretty sure WCA has all that is needed, it has just
failed to disclose it to the public.

best,

Dariusz (a.k.a. "pundit")
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

Andreas Kolbe-2
In reply to this post by Sarah-128
On Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 3:04 AM, Sarah <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 7:59 PM, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > BTW that entire "rag tag group of amateurs doing something amazing",
> > doesn't hold very true indefinitely  We were doing something amazing when
> > we started, but we're really not amateurs anymore. The editing community
> is
> > still isolated from some of the recent spending and support but it has
> only
> > been increasing and increasing for the last decade. Look at the recent
> > budgets, look at the spending, the chapter spending, the programs, the
> > infrastructure- while its not as close to a typical top 10 nternet
> > property, it's not exactly a rag tag bunch of amateurs either.
> >
> > The more people are paid, the more editors we lose (or the fewer we
> attract), in part because they wonder why they're writing for free for an
> organization that pays people to do other things.
>
> So I agree with Doc James that it would be great if the focus on payment
> could be reversed a little. Or else spread some money around the editing
> community in ways that won't cause COI problems.
>
> But as things stand, we ought to assume that the growth of the paid
> bureaucracy and the shrinking of the volunteer editor community might be
> connected.
>


+1. A key issue.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motivation#Intrinsic_and_extrinsic_motivation

This is also an issue in the context of paid editing, which Dirk Franke
(Benutzer:Southpark) is currently looking at as part of his own (paid)
project on paid editing. Related discussions:

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_Diskussion:WikiProjekt_Umgang_mit_bezahltem_Schreiben

While paid editing is a slightly different topic from a paid bureaucracy,
there are some elements in common. If gravy trains are allowed to develop,
this will cost the movement dearly in terms of genuine volunteers'
dedication (James being a prime example). It's profoundly demotivating. It
makes you feel alienated, like a dupe. (If we have to pay anyone from
donations, I would rather see micropayments made to editors and content
contributors.)

Minderbinder, one of the contributors to discussions around Dirk's project,
created a really great graphic to illustrate the motivation problem in the
context of paid editing, which I wanted to share here. In English looks
like this:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vicious_circle_of_paid_editing.jpg

[image: File:Vicious circle of paid editing.jpg]

Personally I am pessimistic as to the chances the movement has of avoiding
the pitfalls of paid editing, paid consultancy, and paid bureaucracy. My
feeling is that people will increasingly seek to monetise their
involvement, or stop contributing.

Andreas
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

Ziko van Dijk-2
In reply to this post by Fæ
Yes, thank you, Markus.
A little note on the draft by Delphine (I believe it is that one
referred to on the talk page): she sent it to the lists shortly before
the Council meeting in Washington. I myself found that it contained a
lot of reasonable items, but that at the moment it was not quite
suitable for the young Association. In the meeting itself, we briefly
mentioned it, but the Council did not even vote. So, to be absolutely
correct, the Council also did not 'reject' it.
Kind regards
Ziko


2013/2/7 Fae <[hidden email]>:

> Thank you for putting it so well Markus. I have now emphasised the
> existing word REJECTED in bold and red on that second table too.
>
> Thanks,
> Fae
> --
> Ashley Van Haeften (Fae) [hidden email]
> Chapters Association Council Chair http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/WCA
> Guide to email tags: http://j.mp/mfae
> Personal and confidential. Unless otherwise stated, do not copy, quote
> or forward this email for any reason without permission.
>
> _______________________________________________
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--

-----------------------------------------------------------
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dr. Ziko van Dijk, voorzitter
http://wmnederland.nl/

Wikimedia Nederland
Postbus 167
3500 AD Utrecht
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

Peter Southwood
In reply to this post by Andreas Kolbe-2
How about awards for good working software developments.
Peter
----- Original Message -----
From: "Andreas Kolbe" <[hidden email]>
To: "Wikimedia Mailing List" <[hidden email]>
Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2013 12:22 PM
Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply
to the WMF board statement


> On Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 3:04 AM, Sarah <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> On Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 7:59 PM, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>> > BTW that entire "rag tag group of amateurs doing something amazing",
>> > doesn't hold very true indefinitely  We were doing something amazing
>> > when
>> > we started, but we're really not amateurs anymore. The editing
>> > community
>> is
>> > still isolated from some of the recent spending and support but it has
>> only
>> > been increasing and increasing for the last decade. Look at the recent
>> > budgets, look at the spending, the chapter spending, the programs, the
>> > infrastructure- while its not as close to a typical top 10 nternet
>> > property, it's not exactly a rag tag bunch of amateurs either.
>> >
>> > The more people are paid, the more editors we lose (or the fewer we
>> attract), in part because they wonder why they're writing for free for an
>> organization that pays people to do other things.
>>
>> So I agree with Doc James that it would be great if the focus on payment
>> could be reversed a little. Or else spread some money around the editing
>> community in ways that won't cause COI problems.
>>
>> But as things stand, we ought to assume that the growth of the paid
>> bureaucracy and the shrinking of the volunteer editor community might be
>> connected.
>>
>
>
> +1. A key issue.
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motivation#Intrinsic_and_extrinsic_motivation
>
> This is also an issue in the context of paid editing, which Dirk Franke
> (Benutzer:Southpark) is currently looking at as part of his own (paid)
> project on paid editing. Related discussions:
>
> http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_Diskussion:WikiProjekt_Umgang_mit_bezahltem_Schreiben
>
> While paid editing is a slightly different topic from a paid bureaucracy,
> there are some elements in common. If gravy trains are allowed to develop,
> this will cost the movement dearly in terms of genuine volunteers'
> dedication (James being a prime example). It's profoundly demotivating. It
> makes you feel alienated, like a dupe. (If we have to pay anyone from
> donations, I would rather see micropayments made to editors and content
> contributors.)
>
> Minderbinder, one of the contributors to discussions around Dirk's
> project,
> created a really great graphic to illustrate the motivation problem in the
> context of paid editing, which I wanted to share here. In English looks
> like this:
>
> http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vicious_circle_of_paid_editing.jpg
>
> [image: File:Vicious circle of paid editing.jpg]
>
> Personally I am pessimistic as to the chances the movement has of avoiding
> the pitfalls of paid editing, paid consultancy, and paid bureaucracy. My
> feeling is that people will increasingly seek to monetise their
> involvement, or stop contributing.
>
> Andreas
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l
>
>
> -----
> No virus found in this message.
> Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
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>


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Strange, surprising, bold and unnecessary - reply to the WMF board statement

Fæ
In reply to this post by Ziko van Dijk-2
On 7 February 2013 12:08, Ziko van Dijk <[hidden email]> wrote:
...
> mentioned it, but the Council did not even vote. So, to be absolutely
> correct, the Council also did not 'reject' it.
> Kind regards
> Ziko

Good point. Shall I change the word used on meta to the phrase "Not
accepted by the Chapters Association" or would something else be
clearer?

Thanks,
Fae
--
Ashley Van Haeften (Fae) [hidden email]
Chapters Association Council Chair http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/WCA
Guide to email tags: http://j.mp/mfae

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