Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Posts Tagged ‘chapters’

Wikimedia Bangladesh completes its local registration after a five-year journey

Annual Wikigathering on 21st February in front of Ekushey Book Fair.

On 10th June 2014, Wikimedia Bangladesh finally completed the exhaustingly long bureaucratic process of local registration when treasurer Ali Haidar Khan collected the registration certificate from the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies & Firms office. This marked another big step towards the creation of a Wikimedia Chapter in Bangladesh. The formal public launching of the chapter is the last task, which we will be doing very shortly.

The idea of having a Bangladesh chapter began in 2009. Since then, Bangladeshi Wikimedians have been hosting regular offline activities for the purposes of realizing this goal. We formally submitted our bylaws to the Chapters Committee (now AffCom) in April 2011. Final approval from the Wikimedia Board of trustees came a few months later on October 3, 2011. We were the 39th chapter to be approved by the Wikimedia Foundation board. After getting the approval from the WMF, the biggest challenge for us was to find a lawyer who would complete the legal formalities of registration at a low cost. Most of the lawyers we approached turned down our proposal because, according to them, getting registration as a non-profit ‘society’ was very difficult since applicants require a security clearance from the National Security Intelligence (NSI) of Bangladesh. We finally found a lawyer who agreed to help us with the condition that we collect the security clearance from NSI on our own. After accepting the condition, we submitted our application for local registration with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies & Firms on May of 2012. We knew that the registration might take some time but we never imagined it will be such a long process that would take so long. We had to wait more than two years before finally receiving the certificate of registration on June 10th, 2014.

Workshop of the German support team

Wikipedia Support Team meeting in the office of Wikimedia Germany

Over the first weekend of December, the German-language support team met in Berlin for their second workshop of 2012. Commonly referred to as the “volunteer response team” (or formerly “OTRS team” after the software it uses, the ”Open-source Ticket Request System”), the team handles a wide range of emails from Wikimedia users and the public, including complaints about Wikipedia articles, inquiries about the Wikimedia projects in general, and statements of permission for images uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. Originally established in 2008, the workshops have since become an integral part of our efforts to improve coordination and enhance understanding of legal as well as technical aspects of our work.

This time, the workshop was hosted by Wikimedia Deutschland, the German chapter. Our thanks go specifically to Christoph Jackel of their Team Communitys, who organized all we needed, be it accommodation for participants or the set-up of the venue at the chapter′s office. We are also, as always, very grateful to Wikimedia Deutschland for reimbursement of transportation and accommodation costs.

The weekend started out with a dinner on Friday evening, attended by about 15 team members. Even though the team is relatively small in size and collaborates smoothly online most of time, it is always a great pleasure to meet in real life, especially for new team members.

On Saturday, the workshop began with a short presentation by Jan Engelmann, head of the Politics & Society department of Wikimedia Deutschland, about a proposed European Union data privacy law designed to implement a “right to be forgotten” for EU citizens, and the potential implications of such legislation for the Wikimedia movement. Following this, Dr. Ansgar Koreng of JBB Rechtsanwälte, a Berlin-based law firm advising the German chapter, talked about issues related to personality rights and copyright that regularly come up on Wikipedia and as part of our work. As the de facto primary point of contact for complaints related to personality rights, we have always found it important to be able to properly react to such issues and support people affected by violations against Wikipedia′s policy on biographies of living persons. As a side effect, this also helps to avoid legal disputes before they have a chance to arise. Dr. Koreng stood ready for numerous questions from our side.

Throughout the entire event, we documented our discussions in real time using a private Etherpad. This also enabled those team members to participate who could not spare the time to come to Berlin.

Later on Saturday, Alice Wiegand, Board of Trustees member since 2012 and a long-time member of our team, talked about developments within the Wikimedia movement and their link to our work in the support team. On the initiative of one team member who gave a short introductory talk, we proceeded to discuss the potential of using flowcharts to document processes commonly employed when handling specific types of requests. Martin Edenhofer, the inventor of the OTRS software, who was scheduled to give a talk about tweaks of the system and recommendations on its use, unfortunately could not attend for personal reasons, but we very much hope to be able to welcome him at a future workshop.

Sunday was mostly devoted to internal processes. We first spent about two hours on a number of questions we had collected in the months preceding the workshop. After lunch, we went on to fill in the details of a member’s proposal to rename and modify response templates we use for very common or difficult-to-respond-to requests. Both topics of the day were aimed particularly at improving the quality of our responses and the efficiency of our handling thereof. Many of the issues that came up had previously been attempted to be addressed online but could not be resolved—showing yet again how productive it can be to discuss face-to-face. The event ended at 2 p.m. on Sunday, leaving time for participants to wade through a snow-covered Berlin and make their way home.

Raimond Spekking

Volunteer response team

Survey: Editors see technical operations and features as most important expenses

Technical operations (more operations staff, new caching servers, performance metrics, uptime) were chosen as the most important use of donation money by respondents to the December 2011 Editor Survey, followed by the development of technical features for new and experienced editors. On average, respondents felt that 26.7 dollars out of every 100 donated to Wikimedia Foundation should be spent on technical operations, almost twice as much as the next major expense.

a. Technical operations and features for editors seen as most important expense
b. Almost half of the respondents are unaware of Board elections
c. Slight dip in overall performance ratings since April (more…)

GAC it up: Introducing the Grant Advisory Committee

In my presentation on the new Wikimedia Grants program, at the Wikimedia Conference in Berlin last March, I mentioned the intention to create a Grant Advisory Committee (its friends can call it the GAC) to help the movement generate effective program plans and bring community experience and perspectives to bear on the evaluation and assessment of funding requests.

Today we announce the formation of this Grant Advisory Committee, and thank all the Wikimedians who volunteered their time and good will to help the movement in yet another way.

The committee’s goals are twofold:

1. Encourage and mentor chapters and other groups to:

  • Learn about and understand the Wikimedia Grants program
  • Draw up compelling project plans with an emphasis on strategy alignment and measures of success
  • Request funding, i.e. submit a grant request on Meta

2. Help the Foundation evaluate requested grants, not by a yes/no vote, but by deliberation and evaluation of strengths and weaknesses of individual proposals in public, i.e. on the Talk pages of the proposals. The aggregate experience and know-how represented by the committee should be able to provide excellent feedback and assessment of proposed projects and plans, and thereby help the Foundation decide how the movement’s resources may best be allocated.

I think an important aspect of the Wikimedia Grants program in general, and of the GAC’s work in particular, is the fact that it is done in public.  Grantmaking, like most activities involving money, tends to happen behind closed doors: money is a sensitive topic, real names need to be used for the actual transactions, there are legal aspects, etc.  But the Wikimedia way is one of public conversation, and I intend to devote attention to ensuring as much of the debate about grants and grantmaking does indeed happen in public.

I am pleased to be able to introduce this new avenue for community involvement in strategic decisions, and I look forward to working with the GAC to strengthen chapters and groups worldwide, and further our mission through judicious use of funds.

Your suggestions and feedback are most welcome.  Please don’t hesitate to submit a grant request, comment on this post, or contact me directly.

Asaf Bartov, Head of Global South Relationships,, User:Ijon