Ask Me Anything about Movement Charter Session, North and South America/Western Europe

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With the goal of ensuring that anyone interested is well informed to fully participate in the conversations and are empowered to contribute their perspective on the Movement Charter, three Ask Me Anything about Movement Charter sessions will be organized, scheduled for different time zones. The Western Europe/North and South America edition will occur on November 12, 2022 at 15:00 UTC (your local time)

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Estou animada para o encontro de amanhã sobre a Carta do Movimento! :scroll:

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Notes (Etherpad)

  • Is this not a manifest, but something more complex than just a charter, is this being composed just in English, or in a multilingual capacity? How is it happening and what is the process?
    • Response: We are drafting primarily in English; however, before we get very far in English, we will have the text reviewed for translatability. We have several draft segments that will come out in the near future; we did end up modifying those drafts quite a bit in order to accommodate the need and desire to translate it as simply and straight-forwardly as possible. English is not an easy language to work with sometimes, so we realize that we have to pay close attention. Feedback from those who speak languages other than English will be really important, and we will be paying close attention to that feedback.
      • Follow Up Comment: To share why I am concerned, the Universal Code of Conduct (UCoC) doesn’t make too much sense to me in Spanish. As the UCoC is important, the Movement Charter will be even more important. It is important to dedicate time to adapt the text into Spanish, and also into Spanish in different contexts, to ensure that they make contextual sense.
  • Will the MC contain something about translation? About using several languages for example. For example, on the Global Council, everyone should not have to use English, encouraging using different languages, etc.
    • Response: I don’t think we got into this level yet; however, it’s nice to see as a suggestion to discuss internally.
    • Response: Within the Movement Charter Drafting Committee, we have normalized working in multiple languages. For example, we work in French sometimes, and we have interpretation in 100% of our meetings - it’s important for us to do that. Some of you saw that we had a presentation in French at the Wikimedia Summit, so we do want to normalize working in multiple languages. The question is - should this be actually written into the Movement Charter or more importantly, become a social norm? We often ask ourselves when working on the document: how will this translate? We are constantly asking ourselves that question.
      • Follow Up Comment: If it should be a norm, it should be in the Movement Charter (language independence).
  • Would the content be available in every language?
    • Response: Every language is quite broad. We have hundreds of languages - so we probably will not be able to translate into every single one of them. For example, Latin and ancient Greek. However, we will translate into languages that cover the majority of our community members. We expect that some people that speak lesser-represented languages will often read another (bridge) language. We have a communications plan and we are using at least the UN languages for translations as well as some other languages including Brazilian-Portuguese. Through this consultation cycle, we are hoping to identify the language needs to include in this process.
    • Response: There is also the Movement Charter Ambassador Program.
  • How are you working with the Wikimedia Foundation and the Board of Trustees to ensure equitable participation? What can we do to distribute responsibilities equitably, so that the Movement as a whole gets more equity in terms of power distribution? Where can we learn more about this process?
    • Response: As we are developing sections of the Movement Charter, we are inviting the legal team from the Wikimedia Foundation to review it. We are also seeking legal counsel that is not part of the Wikimedia Foundation staff to make sure that the text is viable legally. We want to make sure that what we recommend, that is, the way the responsibilities are shared with different groups, will meet the legal requirements for those groups to exist. This is important to do so, as we want to make sure that when people donate to the Wikimedia movement, their money will be spent appropriately, that it will go to recognized organizations and be spent appropriately… We are definitely involved and working with the Wikimedia Foundation, we have two members of the Board of Trustees as advisors (Natalia and Shani) - both of them have spent years working within the Wikimedia community and we know they know the movement and that helps a lot. They have been valuable in being a sounding board and giving suggestions. They are there as individuals and not representatives of the groups they sit on.
  • If the draft is coming out in April, you should have independent legal counsel review sooner, even in the draft stage.
    • Response: We will be publishing some key chapters and the draft outline in the very near future so that we can get a better sense of the manner in which we are writing and the goals we are trying to reach. Keep in mind the document will be considerably re-worked during consultation with the community. So, we want to hear what the community has to say prior to having things solidified by a legal review.
      • Follow Up Comment: Speaking from experience, with the Recommendations being written in a way where the legal team had prevented certain language from being used, I’m worried about the influence from the internal legal team, if some ideas are excluded straight away, meanwhile an external legal counsel may have a different viewpoint.
      • Response: We are still wanting, willing, and planning to take things to the community for thoughts and feedback irrespective of the opinion of the legal team at the Wikimedia Foundation.
    • Response: We have discussed the situation with Stephen LaPorte (Deputy General Counsel at the Wikimedia Foundation), so he is aware of this need and how it could be set up so that it is truly independent, to set up the contract, the attorney-client privilege so that it is independent research and review. There often needs to be specific questions for the legal counsel to be able to provide useful opinions, so there is a timing issue here. We have tried to already bring in different perspectives to figure out where we are heading. We are doing the initial review of the intent of where we want the roles and responsibilities to be so that we can guide the Movement Charter Drafting Committee. We will have the first draft in April and we will meet in-person ahead of time to look at the feedback and put it together. By then, we will be clear whether we are ready to go into the legal review, and then decide if we can do the independent legal review before the first draft consultation, or afterwards.
  • If I am understanding correctly, we will have a first draft of this charter in April. So, my question is, have you considered the possibility that some key topics that will directly affect communities could have some earlier revision? Or, could there be some kind of consulting process before April, so that we, as communities, can have some sort of opinion, and help - for instance, when we talk about distribution about opinions - we are all trying to come up with a process that takes into consideration all the communities and their individual processes - this is a critical process, is it possible, have you considered having a consultative process - for the key topics before the publication of the first draft? This is just a suggestion.
    • Response: This is why we have established the different levels of stakeholder consultation, so we are not writing this in closed doors; we want to include people in this process.
    • Response: The sections that we will be releasing are the Preamble, the Values and Principles, and an outline of how we are going to deal with the Roles and Responsibilities. We are working on several other things as well; however, we want to make sure that we gather this information sooner. The outline will be published soon on Meta.
  • About facilitation of how the MCDC works, are there any thoughts about reintroducing facilitation towards the end of this cycle and the first full draft, to make this more efficient? Or, is this something not contemplated? The group had a facilitator, but since then it was stopped.
    • Response: We are in the process of seeking a replacement for our facilitator. Facilitation has continued; MCDC members have rotated facilitation responsibilities among them. We have several experienced facilitators within our group. By April, we will have our full time facilitator again, as facilitating at the same time as participating is difficult.
      • Follow Up Comment: It is very hard to facilitate and participate at the same time.
  • When talking about the community, I think we all agree that the Movement Charter is quite a high-level document. I wonder, coming with an organization background, thinking about structures and who is able to do what, to put responsibilities in the right place; meanwhile, the huge majority of our community is much more interested in how to better contribute to our projects, and I wonder: if you have thought about how to bridge these things (movement organizers and contributors) - what kind of communities do we want to be in that consultation? What kind of voices do you want to hear? How do you think you can break down the high-level abstract ideas of the Movement Charter into what that means to contributors on the ground level? Sometimes individual contributors can be somewhat left out when we think about how to structure the movement better.
    • Response: I think it goes back to our engagement plan because we laid out some stakeholders and the different levels of engagement - this is one way of making sure that people are involved. At the same time, we are working on this consultation cycle so that people can be part of the process in different communication channels. We will be experimenting in the next weeks and months, and we will have time to iterate and adapt as we go. I agree with you this is a process and we need to learn by doing because the topic of the Movement Charter is quite new. We want to involve the different parts of the community so we need to think about the mechanics of how this will happen.
    • Response: One of the challenges that we all face is that the majority of the people who work on our projects really “don’t care” about most of this stuff - they want to come in, do their editing, make sure their images can get up, their files are taken care of, they want to publish and share knowledge. So, we have to find those balances, and make sure that we write something that we know will work for them - and actively seek out their opinions on this matter. That will be really challenging - to get grassroots members of our huge members of our communities to actively participate in this and give us the feedback that we need to make sure that the Movement Charter does what they need it to do. It’s a great question - we haven’t fine tuned it exactly yet, but we recognize that this is a very important point.
  • How are you keeping the spirits up? This is a rather long process. I see that the committee won’t be accepting more members. I wonder if it’s a good idea to look for more members to take on the task in case someone leaves.
    • Response: The main reason we have said that there will be no new members after 1 January 2023 is that it is really time-consuming to orient someone to a process that has already been ongoing for over a year. We have already oriented new members a couple of times already, so we know from experience that it was hard for them to catch up: to simply go through the volume of information that we have already accumulated. Having said that: it is a long process. When we started, we made it clear that people can take time off as they need to - no questions asked. We also know that when we work in our groups on particular projects, we know that we can reach out to individual community members to help us on those certain topics. We don’t need to make someone a full member of the community to bring them into the process and actively have a role in drafting certain sections. We want to make sure that we do that - to be participatory.
  • I’m not sure if it’s in the capacity of the MCDC to actually make that decision to not accept new members. Each one was sent on behalf of a pretty big group of people. So the right should reside in the people that originally contributed in that s/election process. On Meta, it was noted about "revisiting old decisions”, however, it’s not likely someone is going to ask about that anyway. So I’m not sure if the MCDC should be responsible for making those decisions - it should be the Wikimedia communities, the Affiliates.
    • Response: I am not sure who that would be either; we did replace someone who was an elected member, and in that case we went to the person with the next highest vote support. We also had to replace a member that was selected by the affiliates, and it took them almost 4 months to do that since those original selection committees were not standing, they had to be reseated, and it was difficult without a member for three months. It’s been a long time since the s/election process, and people may feel differently at this point.
    • Response: Regarding the replacement process: even though we thought that the steps were clear, we actually had a struggle each and every time we had to replace a member. It was draining on everyone involved. For example with the election process, there is a different way to count the votes. Meanwhile, the selectors had signed up for a particular time period and now they are being called up again. About the content creation, people need to be in tune and this was an arduous process that people are now working well. We are diving in neck deep and starting to write and that’s what they’ve been doing since the summer.
      • Follow Up Comment: I see the MCDC as a group that’s supposed to work on something and not necessarily as a political representation, so I guess I don’t see how adding someone to take over some tasks, for example, after the first draft is published, people that are nominated to take over to revise the draft should be okay. My worry is that everyone in the group is committed to stick for another 1.5 years, and I don’t think that is feasible. So my concern is that if there is attrition, the work will be split more and more between less people, and then people will feel even more pressured not to leave. So I am concerned about productivity especially as we move into the refining of the draft period.
    • Response: Consider it as a piece of content, for example, you are writing a featured article in collaboration with someone, and then that collaborator is replaced by someone who isn’t familiar with the subject, hasn’t read the manual of style, etc - is this helpful? Not necessarily. You would have to go back to basic first principles and teach them again. We are trying to write something that will hopefully be read by hundreds of thousands of people, even millions - so we have to write for that audience as well. We have to make sure that it’s done well, that we get feedback from the community. We did have long conversations among ourselves such as: “can we make this commitment?” We recognize that folks may have things come up in life that changes their position. Meanwhile, the committee agreed that this will be their primary volunteer position for the period. Yes, it’s a no-win situation; however, we need to recognize that the s/eleciton process took months.
    • Response: The process drain takes a lot of efforts and takes focus off of the content, e.g. the questions that have been asked before - what will be the next step regarding equity in the movement, regarding resources, etc. - one of the issues is that within the movement, we can be so “process-oriented”, so I understand where people are coming from. Meanwhile, at the same time, we sometimes need to stop focusing on the process and actually start working on things. There is an idea to open up each and every group working on each and every section. This way we can make sure that we have the diversity of perspective that is needed and also not burn out some of the committee group members for all the work that is required. So we are trying to trust the committee itself regarding protecting the space for drafting. There is also a missing movement level of oversight for strategic implementation. We don’t want to leave this to the foundation per se and this also doesn’t sit squarely with the movement affiliates (right now), so it’s difficult, when we start discussing the Global Council, we will start to think about in general how these processes should happen in the movement. How do we build up this kind of muscle so we can actually make these decisions?
  • A comment on the idea that the Movement Charter Drafting Committee is (or isn’t) a political body. I’m of the opinion that it’s a very political body. There was a very long process to give legitimacy to the group, including a heated debate within the Wikimedia movement of how this process could be. I find it good that the group does take it as a very important function, and understand why they are wary of trying to remake the MCDC with new members. It is not inconsequential who is in the group. It is very consequential otherwise we wouldn’t have had such a long discussion about it. This is the first time that we are actually writing roles and responsibilities in over 20 years. My question is I guess: does the group consider themselves as a political group that is actually writing rules for how we will represent ourselves and how we will decide things for the future?
    • Response: I think we see our job as two things: the first is sorting things out, figuring out what is being done, what needs to be done, and allocating some of those responsibilities and creating a structure that will make sure that those responsibilities are taken care of. I am deliberately using the word ‘responsibilities’ rather than ‘power’ - as power does not mean anything if you aren’t going to do your job. There is a political element to all of this, but we all come in with very different experiences. We have people who have worked very closely with chapters or are even employees of chapters. There are people who have worked with the Wikimedia Foundation, and continue to work with the Wikimedia Foundation as employees yet are there in their volunteer capacities. There is a balancing act even within the committee. One of the things they’ve agreed on is that if we can’t come up with a compromise or consensus even within the committee, then we can’t take that to the community. If we can’t agree upon it ourselves, then clearly the community won’t agree upon it either. So, who is there IS important, and that is why we’ve made sure that we have such a diverse set of people. We have people who primarily work on projects, people who primarily work with affiliates, people who primarily work with the Wikimedia Foundation, and people who work in all three! We have a lot of people who do NOT work in English on the English projects, and that is something very important. The vast majority of the people in our committee do not routinely work on the English Wikipedia project. So just by that factor we have increased our diversity significantly. We have a lot of members who are not from Europe, or the Western world. We aren’t all the way there, and that is why we will look for support from other groups.
    • Response: It’s important who is part of the MCDC and also how we work together. So this is why we took almost a year before we started publishing content for the community, because we needed to take our time to get to know each other, to understand our procedures, to understand how to make internal decisions, and act as a unified committee, so yes, this is political, as we had to understand how to work together to present to the community something that will not drag us into conflict - so I see it as a political but grounded committee, because we have a very clear goal and deliverable, and we are truly committed to the movement and to the accountability and responsibility that comes to this role.
  • Looking forward to reading what you are going to publish as the first consultation to the community. Can we expect some different ideas, or perspectives, or approaches, so that we can combine or think about so that we can think about A versus B, and what this will mean to these or those stakeholders, or will it just be one-thing - a fixed idea coming from the committee? Will there be any options, or will it just be settled items to discuss?
    • Response: We will be putting out bits of content, some of which has been shared a little bit at the Wikimedia Summit - we have revealed materials and are now looking for community feedback. There will be a form so people can state about what people think about the specifics. It’s not really ‘this or that’, but a text that people can then make their comments on the specific parts.
      • Follow Up Comment: I should wish we would start at an earlier stage about this - or - that, however, I am happy to see what’s coming up.
  • Will the soon to be published draft also be translated (in every language)?
    • Response: It will be translated into at least 9 languages, including the UN languages.
  • Coming from emerging communities that are not formal affiliates, as informal groups that work as a group - how will the Movement Charter cover these less-visible structures that we might have to look further for?
    • Response: It is a challenge, and we do actually talk about informal groups in the Preamble of the Movement Charter and emphasize that they do have a standing, that they are important parts of our broad global community. While informal groups may not have formal responsibilities, they do form a very important part of our community. For example, you don’t have to be a formal affiliate to be actively involved in creating huge amounts of content, or supporting internal communities. On some of the larger projects we have groups that are called “WikiProjects”, like WikiProjects Roads and Military History that devote themselves to collaborating around a particular subject. These are examples of informal groups (not recognized as affiliates), so the level of responsibility they have will be dependent on what other groups are working with. These are important contributors and we mention them explicitly in the Preamble.
    • Response: It’s interesting that this question is being asked to us on different occasions, so we are, of course, including them as they are absolutely part of our movement and will be included.
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I’m very pleased to see this whole thread here. thanks, @NPhan_WMF , for setting all this up. my main concern relates partly to the question above. namely, to what degree is the community actually involved in this? and even further, to what degree do we even need a Movement Charter in the first place? haven’t we already gotten this far, without one?

please note, i do make a point of viewing all ideas from WMF with an open mind. I’m willing to give this idea and this new resource the benefit of the doubt.

however, I guess that even with that said, I still do have a few questions. I appreciate your help. thanks.

Hi! I acknowledge your question, and in an effort to make sure we’re not having divergent conversations - since this is similar to the question you posed here - let’s have the conversation on the Preamble thread. Someone should be getting back to you on that; I have pinged them about it :slight_smile:

that sounds terrific. sure, this thread is fine as a place to discuss this topic. i appreciate your reply and your efforts. thanks!