Talk:Representing Wikimedia UK

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Some comments[edit source]

First, there is nothing wrong with volunteers representing Wikimedia UK. If anything, they should be encouraged to do so, because if it weren't for volunteers WMUK would be a glorified payment processing centre for the WMF. Yes, ok, there's a tiny risk that somebody might sue us because we can't contractually control what these people say, but these people are people who are passionate about WMUK and its aims, and, frankly, the risk of allowing a few volunteers to quasi-officially represent WMUK is only marginally (if at all) greater than allowing seven trustees and five members of staff to officially represent the chapter. If there are serious, legitimate concerns about allowing volunteers to "officially" represent the chapter (and those concerns have been determined to be legitimate after a full and frank discussion among the board, staff, and wider community, not a decision made behind closed doors), then we can be selective about who we allow to represent WMUK, make them sign some paperwork, and revoke that 'status' if they go off the rails.

Second, stationery, and in particular business cards, are useful tools that we shouldn't be limiting to staff and trustees. Whatever the policy, it's a fact that volunteers represent the chapter (in the sense of being the face of it, and the only part most people see) in many contexts, particularly at events, and it makes sense for them to look as professional as possible. This doesn't just apply to volunteers who are arbitrarily determined to be leading a "major project". Again, any problems with this can be solved by signing agreements and putting disclaimers on the stationery. About a year ago, I was given a pile of generic WMUK business cards an told there was no problem with writing my details on the back and giving them out. When I ended up giving out my details on a regular basis, I got some cards professionally printed (at my own expense), and they all carry a small disclaimer on the back to the effect that I don't speak for the chapter in any official capacity and the chapter doesn't control the content of Wikimedia projects, followed by official contact details (essentially a concise version of the email disclaimer). There is no good reason why our most active volunteers shouldn't be able to do the same thing.

Third (and finally I promise, apologies for the volume of my comments), details of the domains WMUK holds and of who has access to what are exactly the sort of thing that should be kept on this wiki. The only things that should be kept on private wikis are things that need to be limited to a small group. I get the impression that, now we have a fully functioning office and a core staff, the office wiki and mailing list are being used not just for things that need to be kept confidential (which, aside from personal information, should be very close to nil), but for things that staff feel only they need to know, but which might be of interest to volunteers, supporters, or people who are just curious.

Apologies again for the volume (and for the parts that turned into rants). Harry Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 21:19, 30 May 2012 (UTC)

I don't like this policy either. Control of brand and inventory should probably be covered elsewhere, perhaps the intention is for this to be more about control of "house style" rather than rules for volunteers. In the meantime I would rather sort out the working practice before laying out too many rules.
I agree with Harry, more of our volunteers should have "official" email addresses and more should have the option of "official" business cards if they are going to make good use of them for external meetings (though some opt for our standard blanks if they feel they are not going to use up a hundred in a year). Harry, if you think you could do with business cards please ask for them, if you would make good use of your own official address then ask to have it set up; if you get rejected then the we would have to give you a pretty darn good explanation. At the moment we have defaulted to staff and trustees, I don't think that is either necessary or helpful when plenty of others are obviously trusted to represent our charity in various ways.
With regard to what is on the closed wikis, I am happy for this to be reviewed again. Maybe Richard could show you the sort of things on the office and board wikis. The Board wiki is very small as most confidential matters are either dealt with in person or by email. The Office wiki is needed for stuff like board member contact details but as expenses are now being done in Sage, it is a lot less active (you are aware of how keenly I want to see capital expenditure receipts made public, not an issue I will let ride for much longer). As for the closed email lists, don't worry, Mike is conscientiously and frequently putting the case for taking discussion to open lists and we invariably do exactly that. -- (talk) 05:59, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
As I understand it these "rules" go back some way. I think I can safely speak for all of our staff when I say that volunteers are, and should be, the heart of our organisation. There's certainly no drive to keep things away from volunteers, and there's no desire on the part of staff to "keep things among ourselves". As an aside, if there's anything related to my role or the work that I'm doing that isn't on wiki but anyone has any questions about, please do let me know and I'll be more than happy to help. The same applies to anyone wanting to working with me on anything, or wanting me to work with them. --Stevie Benton (talk) 10:45, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
This draft policy doesn't seem to prohibit volunteers from representing the chapter and using chapter branded stationery and email addresses, etc.. It just says they need the chapter's permission to do that, which is absolutely right. You can't represent someone without their permission - that goes against the very definition of representation. The policy should probably give an explicit and very simple process for getting the relevant permission - granting such permission should probably be a job for Jon, and can be done by just emailing him with a brief explanation of what you want do while calling yourself a representative of the chapter and (as long the volunteer in question is reasonably well known to the chapter and it doesn't sound like they're planning to do anything that would harm the chapter) he can just email back "go ahead" and the job is done. --Tango (talk) 17:50, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
Tango is completely right, from my point of view. This is what we want this to be - not a policy, but a process by which we can keep track of things. The real thing that made me panic was Harry's business cards - the disclaimer on the back states "Wikimedia UK itself can be contacted at or via Note that Wikimedia UK does not control the contents of Wikipedia or other Wikimedia projects". Perhaps I have an early draft, but nowhere on the card does it mention Harry's volunteer status. Certainly, if I was handed this card, I would assume that the volunteer who handed it to me represented Wikimedia UK and that that volunteer was authorised to enter into agreements. We've already had three or four law firms this year contact us about BLP issues, and Wikimedia France are involved in something of an ongoing struggle to prove to the courts that they have no control over Wikipedia. I agree with Fae and Harry in that more of our volunteers should have email addresses and more should have the option of official business cards if they are going to make good use of them - but we need to know who is doing what, we need to investigate how likely it is for us to be sued if (for example) an "official volunteer" is sued as part of a content dispute. We also need to check the business cards first, and we should be paying for them out of WMUK funds - not putting a volunteer out of pocket. If any volunteer thinks they could do with business cards, please ask for them and tell us why - someone will no doubt approve them - but the key part is keeping the office in the loop.
As to the comments on what domains we hold: yes, that information should be on the public wiki; the only reason it isn't is to try and keep this wiki focussed on our goals, rather than the dull work that the chapter does behind the scenes (insurance policies, pensions, supplier details etc). We can transfer some of this stuff over to the public wiki without any problems though. I hope this helps explain things. Richard Symonds (talk) 11:46, 1 June 2012 (UTC)
Thanks Richard. I certainly need new business cards as the phone number on my current ones does not work and it would make sense to have these well in time for Wikimania. As well as trustees and staff, maybe we can email, or IRC, a few highly active volunteers who happen to have lots of meetings on our behalf, if they think they would use/benefit from some cards (off the top of my head, Robin, John C., Harry, Rock Drum and Brian are good candidates but as I said before, some may be happy with standard (reusable) blanks that they can simply write an email address or mobile number on; I'd explain how much they cost at the same time so the volunteers can assess if it is worth it). -- (talk) 12:32, 1 June 2012 (UTC)
I should note that my business cards predate the office in its current form (and my use of blank WMUK business cards predates the existence of the office). It's also worth noting that the majority of those I've given out have been to attendees at outreach events (the main purpose for which I acquired them) and other Wikimedians. When I do give cards to representatives of other organisations (and when I deal with representatives of other organisations in general), I'm always at pains to stress that I can't commit WMUK to anything without running it past the board or an individual trustee first. Harry Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 19:46, 2 June 2012 (UTC)
That applies to me too. I'm a GLAM volunteer subject to the same principles, and any significant commitment needs to be covered by an agreed proposal or grant definition. It's probably doubly true for a trustee. :-) -- (talk) 22:42, 2 June 2012 (UTC)

Official emails in practice[edit source]

I have added:

"Email correspondence confirming agreements or making commitments on behalf of Wikimedia UK with external partners or contacts must have staff or board members copied in for information and advance review if involving or interpreting significant funding commitments."

It's not great wording, but the point is that I want any volunteer who has a email address and is leading partnerships with other organizations or creating significant outreach events to be free to correspond about these matters with others. Where someone is making a commitment that may create a risk for the charity, then the board needs a clear mechanism to demonstrate oversight. Any email that makes a significant commitment (such as covering £250 for lunch for an event or agreeing an external press release involving WMUK) ought to be copied to staff or trustees, though I would see no point in copying on emails that only confirm policy or an existing funding agreement (our in-boxes are too full already). For example we do cover travel costs for people coordinating or facilitating events, saying that in an email and pointing to our policy is fine for any volunteer to handle on their own. -- (talk) 09:52, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

Retaining personal emails[edit source]

We generally obey the good practice principle that we don't break webs of information: that a resource accessible through one address or link continues to be available through that link, except if the content is the sort of thing we don't want at all and is deleted. For example, when we move a page we make a redirect from the old address to the new one.

An exception is with email addresses, such as . People might want to address the Martin Poulter who does stuff with Wikimedia UK through that address, beyond the time and date when I stopped being a trustee. Current practice is apparently to have the email address redirect to another person when a trustee steps down. An exception has been made for me after I've asked, and I'm grateful, but we need a sensible long-term policy consonant with how we treat other kinds of address. NB this is about offering an email redirect, not about hosting email or providing any kind of email service. This is not about anyone's ability to send official emails on behalf of the charity, which should be restricted to people with the appropriate official role, whether board, volunteer or staff, it's just about people receiving stuff intended for them as an individual.

Allowing someone use of a WMUK email represents an investment of trust in that person. Of course, the staff and Board of WMUK have the right to withdraw that privilege if that person acts directly against the objects or interests of WMUK or if they bring the charity into disrepute, or clearly intend to bring it into disrepute. This should be addressed in the volunteer policy. MartinPoulter (talk) 17:42, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

Thanks Martin, all good stuff and has my support. Personally I don't see a problem in continuing to host accounts on the Wikimedia UK system either, certainly there are no cost implications I am aware of and to comply with Charity Commission requirements we need to retain an archive of "official" email in case of a complaint against the charity that needs investigation or in line with our whistle-blowing policy. Any emails to or from are "on the record" in this way, which is something to keep in mind as personal and private emails really should be kept off these addresses as there may be a legal need to publish them later on; a *very* unlikely scenario but not unknown for other charities. -- (talk) 17:49, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
Does WMUK hold such an archive? It definitely doesn't have a record of emails I sent from my official address, since I sent them through gmail and they never went anywhere near a WMUK server. I thought I still had, but I just tested it and I didn't get the email back. My intention while I was on the board was that I used addresses like treasurer@ and fundraising@ if I wanted future emails to go to my successor after I'd left and thomas.dalton@ if I wanted emails to continue coming to me (and I thought they would...). I think that's a good general principle. --Tango (talk) 18:38, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
My emails to and from my email address are on the record for the reasons stated previously. I expect this to apply to all official email accounts representing the charity. Emails dating from before we became a charity I would not assume we have kept, but that's a question for Richard or Mike. I do not have access to past emails to role accounts (such as 'chairman' or 'treasurer'), though if there were to be a serious problem, that could not be resolved some other way, the Chief Exec would have the operational authority to have the relevant emails unarchived and if there were something like a legal requirement, could make them public. Volunteers offering to use such email accounts should use them with the understanding that they are "official" and hence accountable. -- (talk) 21:07, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
WMUK does not formally hold an archive, although archives exist where emails have been left on the server by the email address owners (in particular, this is the case for staff) or where the individual recipient is holding such an archive themselves. If we want to set up a proper archive, then that's something to discuss once the developer is in place. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 20:00, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
Correction: WMUK does hold an archive of emails sent to its mailing lists (office, board and exec). Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 20:07, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

Capacity, and standard agreements[edit source]

At the moment, it comes down to me to set up email addresses (and manage everything else related to the WMUK server). I don't have much time available to do this at the moment, as I have a lot of other things to do. This situation will be changing when the developer position is filled, but we don't currently have the capacity to set up (and provide ongoing support for) email addresses for volunteers. Note that this doesn't depend on whether email addresses are forwarders or full mail accounts - both of these take up the same amount of time.

At present, I've set up two email addresses for volunteers - restoring Martin's email address, and setting up a coventry@ address. I've also supported email addresses This has been done, and support for these addresses is, on a best-efforts basis.

Additionally, in general, I think that there should be a standard agreement that volunteers receiving email addresses should sign, which would set out the terms of having such an email addresses (including what it should be used for, and when it may be terminated). I would be wary about setting up additional email addresses until that agreement is in place.

Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 19:58, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

Did you actually mean to make this a new section, Mike? It looks like a continuation of the section above.
What ongoing support do you provide for email addresses? I would have thought leaving an email address alone were less work than redirecting it?
Yes, the contract implicit between WMUK and the holder of any official email address should be written down, whether than holder is staff, trustee or volunteer. I'm not sure from the above whether you're persuaded or persuadable that a default of termination is a bad thing. MartinPoulter (talk) 22:59, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
I thought it was separate, but it is a continuation of the general topic. Am happy for the section split to be removed if you want.
The ongoing support is when people encounter problems with the email address, they end up asking for support. Sometimes this is a problem with the mail service, more often it's a problem with emails ending up in spam folders or that they didn't expect emails to take a while to come through due to the greylisting system we use. Also, sometimes people want to change from one type of address to another. Each request doesn't take that long to deal with, but they quickly mount up.
I'm currently 'persuadable' about termination being a bad thing. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 02:55, 11 July 2012 (UTC)
Understood. Thanks, MartinPoulter (talk) 15:55, 11 July 2012 (UTC)

What problem does this fix?[edit source]

  • When we have agreed this policy then I won't be able to wander up to Derby Museum and say "I represent Wikimedia UK", Rock Drum won't be able to approach "The Herbert". Someone else won't be able to approach Monmouth as John Cummings did. What will happen of course is that someone can say I represent the Wikipedia movement. (Luckliy they have values that allow people to BE BOLD).
  • .... and if we agree this policy then the office will then be able to keep stock values balanced for merchandise ...Do they really need to be told to do this? What has that got to do with the title and why do they need to be told to breath in and breath out in alternating order?
Can I point out that, we don't have enough people to represent WMUK. I know there are risks in doing what we do, but a few more policies may just about solve the problem of finding volunteers entirely. So I meet someone who wants to "do something". Do we honestly want to pass this document to them? If someone meets the head of the British Muiseum then should they phone a board member? Are board members allowed to act? Or is that the problem? 10:27, 7 September 2012 (UTC)
Wikimedia uk email address? I stopped using mine several months ago.
So No, not without a complete re-write startying with a section called "Purpose" which explains "What problem it fixes" 10:27, 7 September 2012 (UTC)
That is simply not true. After this policy is agreed, you will still be able to represent the chapter, you'll just need permission. You shouldn't be claiming to represent the chapter if you don't have permission from the board or someone to whom they have delegated such authority, since it simply isn't true. You can't represent an organisation unless that organisation has agreed that you do. This policy shouldn't change much (other than formalising procedures), since the basic concept isn't really optional and should be the way it works now. --Tango (talk) 12:47, 7 September 2012 (UTC)