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News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Affiliations Committee

Wiki Loves Pride 2014 and Adding Diversity to Wikipedia

Logo for the proposed user group Wikimedia LGBT

Since Wikipedia’s gender gap first came to light in late 2010, Wikipedians have taken the issue to heart, developing projects with a focus on inclusivity in content, editorship and the learning environments relevant to new editors. 

Wiki Loves Pride started from conversations among Wikipedians editing LGBT topics in a variety of fields, including history, popular culture, politics and medicine, and supporters of Wikimedia LGBT - a proposed user group which promotes the development of LGBT-related content on Wikimedia projects in all languages and encourages LGBT organizations to adopt the values of free culture and open access. The group has slowly been building momentum for the past few years, but had not yet executed a major outreach initiative. Wiki Loves Pride helped kickstart the group’s efforts to gather international supporters and expand its language coverage.

Pride Edit-a-Thons and Photo Campaigns Held Internationally

We decided to run a campaign in June (LGBT Pride Month in the United States), culminating with a multi-city edit-a-thon on June 21. We first committed to hosting events in New York City and Portland, Oregon (our cities of residence), hoping others would follow. We also gave individuals the option to contribute remotely, either by improving articles online or by uploading images related to LGBT culture and history. This was of particular importance for users who live in regions of the world less tolerant of LGBT communities, or where it may be dangerous to organize LGBT meetups.

San Francisco Pride (2014)

In addition to New York City and Portland, offline events were held in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., with online activities in Houston, Seattle, Seoul, South Africa, Vancouver, Vienna and Warsaw. Events will be held in Bangalore and New Delhi later this month as part of the Centre for Internet and Society’s (CIS) Access to Knowledge (A2K) program. Other Wikimedia chapters have expressed interest in hosting LGBT edit-a-thons in the future.

Campaign Results

The campaign’s “Results” page lists 90 LGBT-related articles which were created on English Wikipedia and links to more than 750 images uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. Also listed are new categories, templates and article drafts, along with “Did you know” (DYK) hooks that appeared on the Main Page and policy proposals which may be of interest to the global LGBT community.

In memoriam of Cynthia Ashley-Nelson

Cynthia Ashley-Nelson

Cynthia Ashley-Nelson passed away Friday, April 11th. She was attending the Wikimedia Conference in Berlin as an AffCom member, and on Thursday had participated on her first annual AffCom meeting. The news about her death has surprised and shocked the people at the conference. I realize there are many people who might not be familiar with her, so I wanted to write a few words about the impact she made on those who knew her.

In my role as Board liaison to the Affiliations Committee, I had seen Cindy, as her friends called her, apply to become a member – and ultimately elected to the committee. She had such a solid background, so relevant to the work AffCom does, she was such a strong candidate, it was a no brainer for AffCom to elect her. They were not disappointed. Cindy was participative, incredibly engaged from day one, always looking ahead and trying to improve existing processes and expand AffCom’s role. She had wonderful ideas and a refreshing perspective regarding movement roles and the role of AffCom. One that I especially liked was her desire to implement a thorough Affiliate Development Program, to help guide new affiliates and teach them relevant skills so they could not only be better equipped to survive, but to thrive and have a bigger impact in a shorter period of time.

I got to know Cindy a bit beyond that, for she wanted to test ideas and potential directions in which to take the movement. We would send each other long emails about movement roles and how to move forward with the movement. And as it usually happens, conversations turned from the more formal to the informal, eventually including little snippets of our every day lives, the good things that happened to us and the not so good. When we met for the first time face to face several days ago, we gave each other a big hug. In the session we had during the AffCom meeting she once again showed her passion and commitment to help re-imagine the role of AffCom and how to help new affiliates. At the end of that session, she was confirmed as the new vice-chair of AffCom. That speaks to the impact she made on the committee in such a short time. I think our last interaction was about getting together at some moment during the conference to just hang out and talk. She had a great smile.

As far as we know, Cindy died peacefully and in her sleep. When the tragic news came in on Friday night during dinner, so out of the blue, I was shocked. Literally shocked. She had missed the meeting between AffCom and the Board, which was very surprising, and it hadn’t been possible to contact her, but it didn’t necessarily make one think something bad had occurred. When the Board was notified of what had happened, we wanted to be very respectful of the fact that the priority had to be to contact the next of kin before any kind of public announcement was released. But AffCom had to be told. I had been an AffCom member before joining the Board. Breaking the news to them was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. We went to a room to deal with the shock and the reactions. Nobody wanted to be alone.

This morning after the next of kin had been located and notified, we all got together for breakfast and went together to the venue where a grief counsellor was available. There was a brief but touching tribute at the beginning of the conference. AffCom then prepared a public statement about Cindy’s death. I felt my place was with them, helping them word it. As the schedule was reorganized, I missed the Meet the Board session which was moved to the morning, which I deeply regret, but I did want to be with AffCom in these moments. I want people to know I will be available for anyone who wants to ask me anything about the Board or the movement at the venue. I just couldn’t make it that morning. Before ending this post, I would like to take a moment to thank the people of WMDE, who were incredible in such difficult circumstances and who set up a special room to grieve for her and write in a book of condolences, particularly Pavel, and WMF staff, especially Anasuya, Garfield and Asaf. The support of Board members was deeply appreciated as well, not only by me but by AffCom as well.

This post is perhaps a bit cathartic for me. Cindy, you made an impact in those who knew you and you will be remembered. My thoughts are with the family and friends. Rest in peace.

María Sefidari, WMF Board of Trustees member

  • See Cynthia’s user page on English Wikipedia.
  • Wikimedians have begun to share their memories and condolences about Cynthia on her user talk page.
  • Memorial post by Asaf Bartov, Head of WMF Grants and Global South Partnerships.
  • Announcement by Carlos Colina and Bence Damokos from the Wikimedia Affiliations Committee
  • Wikinews story on the passing of Cynthia Ashley-Nelson.

Naming of new Wikimedia movement entities

As many in the Wikimedia community are aware, the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Directors recently approved the creation of new models of affiliation known as thematic organizations and user groups. Thematic organizations are incorporated independent nonprofits that will support work focusing on a specific topic area within or across countries, regions and languages with certain permissions to use WMF marks. User groups are open membership groups which are granted limited use of Wikimedia marks for publicity related to events and projects. Both types of entities are unprecedented structures within the movement, and have the potential to move our mission forward in constructive and innovative ways.

One important feature of the new movement entity is the name under which it will operate, which is a key means for how it will present itself not just to the Wikimedia community but to the public. You can find my initial thoughts on naming the Thematic organizations talk page here and I’ve elaborated on those thoughts here. Other views can be found elsewhere on the talk page.

The new entities will help represent the movement and so the decisions we make in these initial stages may be of interest to many. In recognition of the fact that our community consists of many thoughtful and diverse voices, we invite and encourage everyone to participate in the discussion on naming models for new entities.

Geoff Brigham, General Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation

The Wikimedia movement facilitates new volunteer organizing models

This post is available in 4 languages: Español 100%Deutsch 7%Français 7%English 100%


Creating an organization from scratch is a hard task. Creating one capable of fulfilling the requirements of a Wikimedia affiliate is even harder. One of the Affiliations Committee’stasks is to make this process an easier one!

It seems like a long time since Wikimedia Deutschland–the first Wikimedia chapter–was founded on June 13, 2004 in Berlin. Since then, 39 chapters (and counting!) have come to life around the world. These groups of volunteers work to support the Wikimedia projects and attract new contributors. By collecting and developing free knowledge under free licenses and disseminating it globally, these chapters engage and empower people in communities around the world. In order to support them and help with “chapter coordination,” a Chapters Committee was created in 2006 by a resolution of the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation.

In 2012, following a community discussion and a resulting Board of Trustees’ resolution, the scope of the Committee was expanded to include thematic organisations and user groups. In accordance with the resolution, the Committee drafted its charter, which was officially approved by the Board in August, thus finalizing the transition to the new Affiliations Committee.

The Affiliations Committee is responsible for making recommendations to the Board of Trustees on the recognition, approval and existence of Wikimedia movement affiliates. The Committee also helps Wikimedians from around the world to organize into chapters, thematic organisations or user groups, and to gain official recognition from the Wikimedia Foundation. The Affiliations Committee can guide you through the founding process of your organization by helping you prepare bylaws; by answering questions about what the Foundation expects from an affiliate; by providing help and advice on solving common technical, trademark, administrative and community-building issues; and — if appropriate — by approving limited financial support for starting up your activities (covering costs of registration, costs of running first projects, etc.).

Wikimedians are social and like to come together to do amazing things!

What are the main differences between the different models of groups? While chapters support and promote the Wikimedia projects in a specified geographical region or country (for example, Wikimedia Argentina), thematic organisations will support and promote the Wikimedia projects in a specified thematic field or focus area (for example, Wikipedia Astrophysics Editors). User groups, on the other hand, will be loose associations of local volunteers, highly variable, but still within the overall mission of supporting and promoting the Wikimedia projects (for example, a WikiProject Stroopwaffle).

In this way, the Wikimedia movement is making it easier for volunteers to come together offline in whichever model of affiliation is most applicable to their needs. Similarly, this will help more individuals and groups gain a series of advantages, such as recognition as representatives of the movement, the possible use of the Wikimedia trademarks to promote the organization’s projects and events, and the possibility of securing grants.

Guides for the creation of thematic organisations and for the creation of user groups are now available on Meta for people who are interested in pursuing those options. A similar chapter creation guide can also be found there. The enthusiastic volunteers at the Affiliations Committee will do their best to help you throughout the process. Heeding these guides and following the existing requirements and guidelines will ensure you have a smooth path towards the creation of your desired affiliate model! Start organising now, gather your friends and contact us at affcom at!

María Sefidari, Treasurer, Affiliations Committee