I had the first opportunity to learn about Wikimedia chapters when I participated in the Wikimedia conference in 2011, representing the newly formed Wikimedia India chapter. While presentations and interactions were useful, the visit to Wikimedia Deutschland (WMDE) chapter office was very helpful, as I had the chance to meet the staff and learn about the chapter’s various activities. After that, as a member of the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) from 2012, I had the opportunity to learn even more about chapters. Though the initial FDC framework and process was the result of extensive deliberations of FDC Advisory group supported by consultants from Bridgespan, some of the gaps became apparent after the first round of FDC deliberations. My major concern was that the process/framework did not account for the diverse attributes of chapters and relied on impersonal wiki pages for discussions, even when substantive funds are at stake.
When the opportunity to visit WMDE came up, I signed up immediately, as it gave me the opportunity to meet with the chapter’s leadership and stakeholders in person - allowing me to better understand their plans and the challenges they face. I, Mike Peel, another FDC Member along with WMF staff team of Anasuya, Garfield and Frank visited WMDE during Feb 5-7, 2014 in Berlin.
In this report, I would like to highlight my impressions on the chapter programs and their evolution as well as share thoughts on WMDE chapter performance and areas for improvement.
Chapter Structure and Infrastructure
Pavel informed us that the chapter had recently moved into their new facility. He took us for a tour of the facility, highlighting the thought process behind the design which allows flexible use of space and also meets the requirements of various stakeholders. The chapter has about 64 full time and part time staff (equivalent to 45 FTE). They are organized into four program teams and one operational/admin team. Each team has appropriate workspaces and computing infrastructure. There was a good number of small meeting rooms and a large conference room. The facility also includes an event room which can accommodate up to 99 participants. The room is used at least two days a week for various chapter programs and its partners. A large calendar on the event room wall has the details of programs that have been planned till the end of the year, leaving no doubt about the effective use of infrastructure. The event room is designed in such a way that part of it can be used as workspace if required by putting up partitions.