[DRAFT] Minimum Criteria for Hub Pilots

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This topic contains sections of the Hubs/Minimum Criteria for Pilots page on Meta. In case of a mismatch, the original version on Meta prevails. The text is divided in multiple topics for better discussion.

This document is a draft of the criteria for implementing regional and thematic hub pilots. It includes necessary conditions to move from the research to the piloting phase, and a template for required information.

Hubs are movement level projects. Their plans need to be transparent, visible, and accountable to the movement. This also helps to create collaboration and coordination between different hub projects and avoid unnecessary duplication or conflicts. Without meeting the outlined criteria a hub project must not move from research and planning to actual piloting and implementation.

This is a draft document to be made available for movement wide review.

Proposal for a process to approve hub pilots

Minimum criteria to become a pilot hub

Planning Template

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This is a discussion space for minimum criteria for hub pilots. Since early implementation conversations there have been differing views regarding the process for the hubs. There have been advocates for starting the implementation only after the ratification of the Movement Charter, while others have supported piloting that is needed in the complexity. As a middle ground, this proposal of minimum viable criteria for pilots has been created based on different hub conversations that have happened.

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Any first impressions? The discussion of the minimum criteria for hub pilots is a very important stage of this Movement Strategy initiative.

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Trying to bridge different discussion channels - there are first comments left on the talk page of the criteria (Talk:Hubs/Minimum Criteria for Pilots - Meta). Perhaps people on MS Forum have opinions regarding these matters.

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Comparison vs User Groups (Talk:Hubs/Minimum Criteria for Pilots - Meta)
This seems like a new model for Wikimedia movement affiliates, including and especially because the current text says that hubs should be reviewed by the Affiliations Committee.

I prefer to avoid making a new affiliations model when the one we have is time tested, community approved, and understood by tens of thousands of people.

Is it the case that the minimum criteria for hubs needs to be different from the minimum criteria for user groups? I say no - would someone like to argue a reason why it should be? If they can be the same, then let’s just tell people to establish user groups, then add additional criteria for hubs. Like for example - “a hub needs to be a collaboration among multiple user groups or chapters”. Bluerasberry (talk) 15:05, 4 June 2022 (UTC)

Response: Thank you for making these points and raising these questions! One of the core questions related to the new proposed model is indeed - how is the new model different from an existing and well-proven model? Why the proposed goal needs a new structure or cannot be achieved with the current Wikimedia structures? These are the questions also outlined in the proposed criteria and template. If there is uncertainty regarding added value, there probably should not be a new experimental model used.

Regarding the difference from existing models, it is indeed suggested in the section of Involved entities that “a hub project must not be overseen by only one entity, as we already have an affiliate model and Wikimedia Foundation for such projects”. This is repeated in the planning template under governance and people sections. Hub pilot model should not be used just for a sake of doing something new, but there needs to be a qualitative and essential difference as well as clear value proposition. --KVaidla (WMF) (talk) 17:48, 4 June 2022 (UTC)

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Avoid multiple words for same concept
(Talk:Hubs/Minimum Criteria for Pilots - Meta)Whatever a hub is, this text calls it by two words: hubs and pilots. I propose to delete all instances of “pilots” and call them “hubs” only. Otherwise, someone should define the difference. Bluerasberry (talk) 15:06, 4 June 2022 (UTC)

Response: This is a great catch and call for consistency of language. Well appreciated.

There is a difference in the use of wording of “hub” and “hub pilot” and I have now tried to make it more consistent in the proposed draft document. In general, a “hub” is a new formal movement structure that will be defined by the Movement Charter. A “hub pilot” would be an experimental project that will test out the concept prior to a formal definition (rooted in the proposed piloting criteria). The idea is that the pilots will help us to become better informed about the realities of the movement, so we can provide a better and feasible definition and role description of a hub in the Charter. As a result, I have changed most instances of occurence of “hubs” to “hub pilots” and leaving it to “hubs” when it refers to the general concept. I hope it makes sense. --KVaidla (WMF) (talk) 17:58, 4 June 2022 (UTC)

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8 posts were merged into an existing topic: [DRAFT] Minimum Criteria for Hub Pilots - Approval process

4 posts were merged into an existing topic: [DRAFT] Minimum Criteria for Hub Pilots - Research / Planning

Yesterday there were discussions about this draft on the Hubs channel in Telegram and the SWAN calls. One of the strongest complaints was that this draft and this conversation now put the breaks on the ongoing Hubs initiatives. A point made was that this conversation could have been done before, for instance in the second Hubs discussion in March.

First I want to acknowledge that yes, ideally this conversation should have started before. We didn’t have enough brain, hands, and time to bring it out before while working on other areas related to Movement Strategy implementation. We are aware of the disruption and extra time and dedication this draft and this conversation may bring to some projects now. Still, the Movement Strategy and Governance team believes that it is a necessary conversation to have if only to hear and document the opinions of the different stakeholders related to Hubs. Our concern is that postponing or skipping this conversation might lead to a worse situation in the future.

According to our count, there are three projects directly impacted by the proposal to set minimum criteria for piloting hubs:

Again, according to our count, the rest of documented projects related to Hubs are busy with their current work and are not delayed by this discussion. In fact, this conversation around this piloting criteria might help them share their own experiences and expectations, and fine tune their plans towards the agreed direction(s).

About the three projects identified as directly affected, their respective projects and situations are very very different. We are in touch with the three of them and we will do our best to find together the best path forward for each situation.

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IMHO (not speaking for any of initiatives here) it seems that WMF needs to own the situation and compensate with some resources (at least with interim and partial support), so that at least some of the (most) urgent needs are met and activities in dynamics of these can take place, rather than being delayed (or even worse restarted) and waste even more time and energy of volunteers and commited affiliates.

What does piloting mean? Let’s encourage more experimentation! [on meta] (Talk:Hubs/Minimum Criteria for Pilots - Meta)

Why not choose a definition of ‘pilot’ that hinges only on the type and scope of work done by the hub? And has nothing to do with approval.

At some point, there may need to be specific funding or trademark or other agreements that have approval involved. But I don’t see a reason for the core idea of having a network of hubs supporting every community in the world to require that. –SJ talk 20:02, 5 June 2022 (UTC)

Response:
Dear SJ, thank you for making this point and insisting on more clarity regarding what is actually meant with the piloting, and, as a result, open the space for true experimentation and innovation!
This point has been raised previously by proponents of hub pilots moving forward. Key points have been two-fold:

  1. Probing in complexity argument - based on complexity management there would need to be experimentation and probing to make sense of the complexity and get to a definition of hubs rooted in practice. A concrete example is “Safe to fail probes” in the Cynefin framework (which seems to be well aligned with the proposed approach in the question / comment).
  2. Momentum argument - based on reality where we have groups which have been functioning as de facto hubs or hub-like structures for years, the piloting seems to be an important step in their natural progress. Stopping ongoing hub projects on their tracks will be detrimental to the sustainability, progress, and growth of relevant communities.

There is further criticism that has been surfaced previously in relation to set up of Interim Global Council and also discussed recently in a Wikimedia-l thread around “Simplifying Governance Processes”, which has again been raised in relation to this proposed draft of piloting criteria. The bottom line of this criticism is that the proposed criteria are too extensive and unnecessarily complex to be helpful and supportive of piloting (in line with the question raised in this thread).
There are, however, opposing arguments that need to be overcome or concerns that would need to be mitigated. In general, there are 3 major arguments also on that side:

  1. Equity argument - It seems that the currently privileged organizations are best positioned to pilot hub models. Moving forward with piloting would be, as a result, increase the existing privilege gap in the movement as these organizations would gain the first mover advantage. The recommendation is to create a more equitable framework.
  2. Agreement argument - There is no existing agreement in the movement what the hubs are or would need to be. This will be defined by the Movement Charter, which will take time. If there is implementation of the hubs in any form, there would need to be some level of public agreement to ensure movement level accountability.
  3. Structural change argument - It is difficult to undo structural changes, which increases the risks of structural pilots. As in the piloting phase people will be employed and coordination structures will be created, it is something that cannot be easily undone due to either legal reasons or structural inertia.

Proposed criteria try to overcome the tensions between these arguments. More importantly, they help to bring different discussions from different corners of the movement to light, so we can hopefully start to advance on the topic that has been stuck due to these “polarities” for some time now. It would be great to see further explanations and arguments from different perspectives on this talk page and other discussion spaces enabled for this purpose. –KVaidla (WMF) (talk) 11:53, 6 June 2022 (UTC)

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Process feedback

As I have said at the SWAN meeting, I think this fit into the generic pattern of the the WMF setting itself up as the facilitator of movement strategy but then not investing the resources to actually facilitate well. The implementation phase started two and half years ago (or to put it another way, we are supposedly at 25% implementedness of the 2030 strategy); if these criteria are so important they should have been rolled out a long time ago. Let’s go for criteria that really are minimal (I don’t think the current ones do a good job at avoiding red tape) to minimize further delays (which are of course more problematic for the hub projects which are already in flight, but keeping the burden on volunteers low is also important for the hub projects which are not in the pilot phase yet. Also, maybe this is a good opportunity for a post-mortem and some re-thinking of what the future blockers are and how they can be dealt with before they actually block people.

(More generally, for initiatives other than hubs, I feel the WMF has set an expectation of being in leadership role by holding initial conversations and selecting priority initiatives, but then didn’t do anything whatsoever about them. The WMF is always the most successful when it is acting as a platform provider, not getting in the way, just making the necessary capabilities available. This forum is a great example of that: the WMF provides a good discussion platform to anyone working on the strategy, and builds its reach, but does not require any kind of coordination before using it. It would be great if in a similar vein the outreach and research needs for someone working on implementations could be considered, and then e.g. the MSG team would provide liaisons-as-a-service, with an easy way for anyone to get their own information included. Tech News is a great success story of this approach.)

Content feedback

  • Needs assessment, Overlap Mitigation Plan and “Off-ramp” plan seem like important concerns that should be handled (mis-alignment with actual needs, conflict with another affiliate, and unwanted commitments arising from pilots are all plausible and significant risks).
  • Clear plan, Endorsement and Monitoring and Evaluation framework are already included in the grant requirements. Some hubs might obtain funding in ways other than WMF grants and in that case consistently enforcing best practices might be useful, but it would be nice to avoid the duplicative work for the huge majority of hub pilots which do rely on WMF grants.
  • Not sure how Success criteria is different from having an evaluation framework with key results. Or is this specifically about the success of the pilot? I don’t think it’s realistic to predict a pilot’s course well enough for setting good success criteria; and in any case, we are not probing here whether hubs are a good idea. We have already agreed they are needed. If a pilot doesn’t immediately succeed, it needs help, maybe a different approach, but not being declared a failure.
  • Public documentation, Community engagement framework and Connection to the Movement Strategy implementation process are common sense. I guess it’s good to document them just in case, as long as they don’t add much to the planning burden (“designated representatives” for the MS events, for example, seems like an entirely unnecessary layer of bureaucracy).
  • Shared governance model also seems like a common-sense good idea, except I find the phrasing confusing. Shared with whom?
  • A stated goal – Clear explanation of the goal of the hub. Including why this goal needs a new structure or cannot be achieved with the current Wikimedia structures. – What is the point of these, given that we have a recommendation about the need for hubs? Are we going to relitigate it now? Maybe for thematic hubs there is some value in justifying which thematic area does or doesn’t need a hub, but for regional hubs this seems entirely pointless.
  • Involved entities – List of entities involved in the set up and oversight of the project. – This seems to imply that hubs need to be “second-level” membership organizations where the members are entities. I don’t think that was intended so it should be rephrased.
  • Inclusive leadership – The leadership of the pilot needs to be inclusive of diverse profiles (representation of gender, age, languages, regions…) – I don’t think this is a healthy aspiration for a pilot, given how small is our pool of volunteers with sufficient free time, interest in high-level movement strategy, and the necessary competencies and experience. Pilots which prove successful and gather resources and interest can then more easily diversify their leadership; it’s better for something to eventually be diverse than to not exist at all. (See also the Wikimedia Foundation’s board composition in its first few years - it’s always instructive to contrast the standards the WMF applies to others in the movement with the standards it applies to itself.)
  • The approval process (review by the MSG team, AffCom and MCDC, and “general approval from the related communities” whatever that means) seems unnecessarily complex and heavy-handed. Why is it important to include AffCom in a pilot? How would general community approval look? And is this really a good use of the MCDC’s limited and valuable time (which could instead be spent on actually working on the movement charter)?

Feedback about the CEE hub specifically

Our timeline is (as has been in the previous years, and as has been discussed with the WMF) built around the CEE Meeting that’s happening in October and is the CEE community’s main discussion and governance forum. Since it’s very hard to get feedback from community members not heavily involved in movement governance without actually doing something that’s relevant for them, by that point, we would need to finish hiring and basic onboarding of hub staff, and have at least a vague outline of the actual programs. We have four months left, at least two of which will be seemingly taken up by this new roadblock in the process (after the transfer of the grants from one WMF department to the other already causing delay). That seems infeasible, so we will miss the feedback and oversight opportunity provided by the meeting, and will have to rely on the significantly less diverse and less rich feedback that we can get online. That would be an unfortunate outcome given that the new criteria’s stated main aim is ensuring community oversight.

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Let’s see how the 3 major arguments hold up when we look at the CEE Hub proposal:

  1. Equity argument - this argument fails to understand WHO the hub is FOR. The CEE Hub isn’t designed to make established affiliates even bigger, but to create more equity within the region by supporting underfunded communities (most of the staff work pertains to this). It is a bit unfair to explain to Malta that they’re not a priority and should wait another 2 years, for what exactly?
  2. Agreement: Regional hubs are networks of existing affiliates and communities in the region. It is up to them how they want to organise themselves and as long as they don’t start running ads on their language Wikipedia, how would a movement charter interfere with this, especially when the movement charter is based on the principle of making decisions as close to the affected people/communities as possible?
  3. Structural change argument - the CEE Hub was cleary classified as a 1 year project after which the next steps would have to be discussed. This also affects staff, which would be hired for 1 year only. That is a totally viable and legal type of employment in CEE countries, so it’s unclear what the problem is here.
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Thank you Zblace for raising this point! As Quim already stated: “We are in touch with the three of them and we will do our best to find together the best path forward for each situation.” This will be the approach with any other groups that feel blocked, that is trying to figure out the solutions in their particular context. At the same time, we will try to make progress regarding the alignment and movement level agreement, so the blocker could be removed overall and we have more clarity for the groups in the future moving towards piloting phase.

Thank you Tgr, for raising these points and following up from the conversation at the SWAN meeting, June 5. Couple of points from my side:

  • Yes, these criteria should have been pulled together much earlier. Overall, there was a too long gap between January 2021 and November 2021 event, when the focus was put to advancing the Movement Charter track and assemblying the Movement Charter Drafting Committee. We tried to get to alignment and agreement with the November 2021 event, yet it was used mostly to catching up with what had happened in between events, rather than looking forward.
  • To bridge the gap, we conducted the Hubs Dialogue project in February 2022 and followed up with the convergence discussion March 2022. The agreement of this task was to finally produce the criteria. However, pulling together materials from diverse range of conversations took more time than initially anticipated and so the criteria were only published now, beginning of June 2022.
  • As a person responsible for coordinating publishing of these criteria, I am committed to work with the team to figure out how these next steps agreed upon at the common discussions will be implemented more efficiently to ensure better progress and less frustration across the movement. Point well taken.
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Technical note: Definition of “red tape” - “official routine or procedure marked by excessive complexity which results in delay or inaction”.

  • As stated in previous reply, pulling together the criteria has been based on a number of conversations. In an effort to be authentic to the matters surfaced, the list is probably indeed more comprehensive than minimum. I see that you have provided here content feedback, which is exactly in line with trying to get us to the minimum criteria. We would need to get more voices into that content conversation, so we can make progress on getting to a useful / usable criteria that serves its purpose of ensuring overall alignment and accountability to the movement, yet does not put too much burden on communities and volunteers.
  • There is a similar point made on meta, basically stating that piloting should have lean criteria and low barrier of access to actually support experimentation and innivation. The “equity argument” provided to support these criteria also calls us to the balance - while it is true that having public criteria and rules supports equitable engagement, it is also true that it should not create unnecessary barrier for the groups that want to be involved, yet do not have extensive resourcing available.
  • Doing a post mortem is an excellent point and opportunity to learn. True learning would mean that situations similar to current will be avoided or prevented in the future.
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The interesting thing here is that groups like ESEAP have been running and meeting regularly since 2012, have run their own conferences and in ESEAPs case were successfully organising Wikimania 2020 until covid knock every thing sideways.

There are other groups / hubs with similar experiences, the real question is are pilots really needed the hubs already serve their communities according to each communities cultural norms and needs. These pilots and guides really just take away each communities cultural differences discards that to make them all be the cookie cutter look-a-likes rather than reflect cultural differences and community needs.

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Thank you for providing direct content feedback, Tgr! This is really helpful and very much in line with the engagement we hoped to have in relation to the published draft.

To make this type of engagement easier, we have now created a space on meta talk page, where people can discuss each and every section in more detail. “Quoting” function can be used to continue more detailed conversation here on MS Forum.

Hi @Gnangarra, :wave: it looks like ESEAP has this point of the draft well covered:

  • Proof of public discussion and general approval from the related communities.

Can we consider this point applicable to any promoters of a hub, or could it be open to exceptions?

What I want to say is that with or without pilots, and considering all the regional and cultural differences, probably there are some points that are equally required or desirable for all hub projects. It would be useful for everyone to agree on which points in the current draft are “required”, “nice to have”, “this shouldn’t be in this list”, and also whether anything is missing.

Hi @Braveheart, thank you for participating here. :wave:

What I hear you saying is that the CEE proposal scores even better than the current draft. :slight_smile: You might be right! The CEE hub promoters and related communities have worked a lot, for a long time, and with very good results. You have got a lot of feedback along the way and you have been fine-tuning your project accordingly. So many people have said that the CEE hub initiative is exemplary and a source of inspiration for others.

Meanwhile, the draft published last week is the first iteration of a proposal. A draft looking for feedback, improvements, and consensus. In a few days we have got quite some feedback from some people, loud and clear. In this sense, the draft is being useful. :slight_smile: Our estimate is that we can go from this first draft to a version of consensus during this month of June, thanks to these weeks of discussion and the three events for different time zones.