[DRAFT] Minimum Criteria for Hub Pilots


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)

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)


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.


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.

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.


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.

@Tgr , I think you make some excellent points and ideas here. I replied to you on the Telegram thread as well. looking forward to exploring and discussing these ideas full. thanks!!! by the way, I am user:sm8900 at Wikipedia.


Thank you for this proposal.

Much of it seems very sensible. In particular, I agree that any proposal for a Hub has to be able to state:

  • who it serves
  • who is involved
  • who has been consulted and supports the proposal
  • what the Hub aims to do
  • where the ‘fuzzy boundaries’ are with the rest of the movement and how to deal with them [this is the area that is newest compared with existing affiliate models, and is particularly important]
  • how the Hub will monitor success, and what happens if it doesn’t succeed

This is all very sensible. If new pilot-Hubs have not thought about these questions then they will not succeed. (I get the impression that many of them have thought about these issues a lot, and their answers will be very helpful for the next wave of Hubs as well).

I also welcome including diversity as an element of success for Hub governance groups. There isn’t a definition of what that means, and in practice I would not say that a new hub has to have a perfectly diverse and representative board. But it would be a problem if there was a Hub board that consisted of seven men from a single Wikipedia, for instance.

My main point of disagreement is in the ‘who has to agree before the Hub can be set up’. There is not yet an established governance/accountability model for Hubs. However this proposal seems to imply that, because there is not yet a new model, every single existing body has to agree: the WMF staff AND the Affiliations Committee AND the Grants Committees AND the Movement Charter Drafting Committee. Who knows, perhaps of the 50 people in all of those groups, someone might be able to find an objection! I would suggest that a more lightweight approach would be better. Particularly as both AffCom and MCDC are quite slow-moving committees and getting approval from either of them on any given question could take at least 3 months.

Personally I would be happy with the WMF team simply giving approval to a pilot-Hub so long as there is evidence of support from the affected communities. After all, Hubs are already agreed in principle (from the Movement Strategy recommendations) and this is an interim arrangement. In the long term I would not want staff to have sole authority over this, but eventually the MCDC will work out a process for recognition and funding of Hubs.

If it’s felt important to have more volunteer scrutiny of pilot-Hubs before they are set up, then I would suggest the Regional Grants Committees are most appropriate as they have the best knowledge of the context the Hubs will be working in. This is better in line with the strategy principles of decentralisation and subsidiarity.

I hope this is helpful feedback.


How is that supposed to happen when the first draft is unworkable, like Tgr pointed out? The global hub discussions have not yielded signifcant results because of regional and thematic differences, yet you portray them as successful in defining next steps that are ambiguous to the point where the strategy team can go in any direction they please, cherrypicking individual voices from Western Europe as “concerns” (which is apparent in the first “draft”).

You claim the CEE Hub grant proposal from the grants team two weeks before the decision should have been made, despite a clear lack of time and personel within the strategy team, instead of leaving the proposal with people who have done this for years and have experience in deciding what is feasible based on the proposal. That was five weeks ago, with no progress since.

You announce here that there are “discussions” ongoing with the three projects mentioned above, yet no discussions have taken place with at least two of them (I have no knowledge of the Content Partnership conversations), because so far there have only been handed down decisions conveyed by a messenger who has no decision-making powers. For Wikimedia Europe I’m not even sure they are fully aware of what you have written in this forum, because at the same time the statutes for Wikimedia Europe have been finalised and are ready for affiliates to endorse.

You describe the people putting these hub concepts together as “promoters”, as if this is something to sell to the wider community. The CEE Meeting has been happening since 2012, the network in CEE exists since 2011. There is nothing to sell or promote here, only to accept as existing in one form or another, however informal and unprofessional it might be, mainly because of the lack of funds compared to whatever new initiative the WMF dreams up next.

And the cherry on top came yesterday when your team wanted to know from the CEE Hub in how many tranches the CEE Hub budget should be paid out to WMPL. It really feels like we’re living in two different worlds. One where everything can exist at the same time (because as the first draft indicates, everyone with power right now should be made happy, while those without should be kept in their place), and one where nothing moves forward and nothing we do actually matters.

This situation is serious. We’ve wasted last year on an overbloated process that resulted in the MCDC taking itself so seriously that they spend 9 months on self-organisation. At the same time, you’re burning out exactly those volunteers and affiliates who have invested time, money and faith in this strategy process, by trying to make everyone happy in a process that was supposed to change the power dynamics and end this one-sided power-relationship for good. Something has to give soon, and the sooner we are open about these things instead of trying to pretend we’re one happy family, the sooner we can start addressing the actual underlying issues that have plagued the Wikimedia communties for the last two decades.

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@Braveheart , I just want to thank you for your reasoned, specific, and thorough critique above for some issues that we are facing., I generally agree with you. one particular pitfall that we really need to try to actively avoid is general thematic vagueness. I am open to views on both sides of this issue, and also to both sides of the debte over moving forward thematically, versus waiting to achieve consensus. however your detailed critique above is exactly what we ned to gain some clarity for this process, and valid authenticity for our actions, overall. seriously, thank you.

Consensus on Hub pilots is supposed to happen by having more people and groups providing their feedback about the draft. We keep inviting more people to participate.

I have different information about the conversations we are having, but this isn’t relevant to the discussion of the draft.

I’m very sorry, in my mother tongues “promoter” doesn’t have the connotation that are upsetting you, and I wasn’t aware that this word could have this connotation in English. I just mean the people who speak on behalf of these projects.

When discussing a grant request of a large sum and for a long period, it is not uncommon to discuss how the payments of the grant should be distributed.

Yes, I agree that the situation of the MS implementation (and beyond) is serious, also the risk (and fact) of volunteers burning out. I also don’t think we are trying to make everyone happy. Some conversations and decisions have been put aside or postponed for years, the Movement Strategy implementation contains many of these, and we need to address them. Here we are taking one of these conversations (how hub projects can go from research to implementation) and aiming to resolve it in four weeks of community conversation.

We are aware of the risks this process may have in the CEE Hub project and we want to avoid them. We just don’t think that the solution to this problem is not to have this discussion about piloting criteria. We believe that we need to agree on piloting criteria for everyone and we can agree on a good path forward for the pioneering CEE Hub.

Just one detail here:

Yes, exactly. If a hub project has already addressed these points in a grant proposal (or any other prior work) all they would need to do is point to the documentation addressing these points.

The idea is that hub projects address these basic points in a way or another.

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We have created five topics to discuss the distinct parts of the [DRAFT] Minimum Criteria for Hub Pilots:

Proposal for a process to approve hub pilots

Minimum criteria to become a pilot hub

Planning Template

We hope this helps to discuss further the sections requiring to approach positions. This separation of sections may also help to check whether there are sections with a broad agreement or no feedback.

You can keep using this topic here for general comments about the draft or anything covering multiple sections.

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