Water cooler/2012

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Foundation listing

Could someone tweak http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Local_chapters to say that we are a charity? Not in my SUL for some reason. Thanks -- 22:04, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

Done. The WMF wiki doesn't use SUL since it is closed for general editing - you need a separate login for it. Mike Peel 00:02, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

Wikimania 2012 scholarships

The Wikimania 2012 scholarships page is now online. I'm aware that last year Wikimedia UK helped fund some scholarships on top of those provided by the Foundation budget. According to the FAQ, this year chapter scholarships will universally use the same application system as Foundation scholarships, and that applicants will automatically be considered for chapter scholarships as well, where available. Is Wikimedia UK planning to participate in this? CT Cooper · talk 21:29, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

We have a budget that will support people's attendance at Wikimania 2012, but we haven't yet had chance to discuss the details (such as the number of scholarships, the criteria, and the application method). I'd personally love to see us participating in the main application system, but the timing of this may sadly mean that this isn't possible and we may have to make use of an independent application system. In particular, the board's attention is currently focused on the Fundraising and Funds Dissemination discussion, as well as UK-specific activities, that have prevented us from discussing Wikimania 2012 thus far. Mike Peel 21:51, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm not to fussed about applying multiple times as necessary, and I understand the board has plenty of other things to think about. Thank you for your quick response. CT Cooper · talk 22:22, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
Mike: If you want to do a separate application process, that's okay I guess. Or we can allow you to review UK applicants (after Feb 16) to the main scholarship system and select some. Either way, please let us know so we can plan accordingly. Cheers. Aude 21:06, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
I'll see what we can do - but there's so much going on right now that this probably needs to wait at least a week or so before we can start to think about this in any detail. Mike Peel 00:55, 17 January 2012 (UTC)
To wrap this up: we are offering scholarships via the main Wikimania scholarships program - so please apply there. :-) Thanks. Mike Peel 20:18, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
Excellent, that should make things easier for applicants. CT Cooper · talk 23:07, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

Huge foot

Every page on WMUK includes 3 lines saying "Wikimedia UK is the operating name of Wiki UK Limited, a Charitable Company registered in England and Wales. Registered Company No. 6741827. Registered Charity No.1144513. Registered Office: 4th Floor, Development House, 56-64 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4LT" in the footer. Do we really need to do this, it seems unsightly? By the way, the Main page duplicates all this information in the body, which seems doubly unsightly. -- 21:26, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Yes. Or at least: the information in that text needs to be on official pages (and correspondence). It doesn't need to be duplicated, though - so can probably be removed from the body of pages. Mike Peel 21:45, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm wondering if it can be shrunk down, I'm not sure the Co. no., C. no. and full postal address all need to be there as opposed to on a linked contact page. It might also just be shrunk to an even smaller font or just wrapped in a way that does not take up three separate lines. -- 22:57, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
I thought the address, charity number, and registered name had to be on all official pages and that seems to be the easiest way to put them there. I don't see the extra few lines at the bottom as a big deal—it's about the same as is taken up by This page was last modified on 16 January 2012 at 06:24. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. See Terms of use for details. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization. at the bottom of Wikipedia. Harry Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 02:12, 21 January 2012 (UTC)

Friendly Space policy

Does anyone have counter suggestions with regard to adopting the WMF policy for dealing with harassment at events (wmf:Friendly_space_policy)? A variation was recently created for DC m:GLAMcamp_DC/Friendly_space_policy. Unless we have a reason to create a UK variation, the WMF policy could be linked to from the Events page. -- 08:27, 21 January 2012 (UTC)

I think the need to create a UK-specific version is pretty clear - e.g. from a quick look it needs to say 'Wikimedia UK' rather that 'Wikimedia Foundation', give the appropriate contact details, and be generalised to include all events rather than just conferences. It also needs to have links to the relevant UK law. There's also a couple of general changes that we'd need to make to our event organisation if we adopt this policy - e.g. ensuring that all organisers are clearly identified (by a badge according to that policy - we may want to go for T-shirts instead or similar). So I'd suggest creating a copy of it here and pointing people towards it for discussion, with the aim of putting it forward for adoption at the 11 February board meeting. Mike Peel 14:11, 21 January 2012 (UTC)
I've copied it over to here and adapted it a little for UK needs, although there is still more work to be done. Regards, Rock drum (talkcontribs) 15:24, 21 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, I suggest further discussion for improvement is at Talk:Friendly space policy rather than here. -- 15:40, 21 January 2012 (UTC)

2012 election

Would anyone care to look at setting up the 2012 election pages for questions and candidate statements? The Board Interest day (11th February) is not that far away and having these pages to refer to would probably be a good idea when explaining our election process. If anyone has ideas of how to improve the way this works, now might be a good time to put these forward. -- 11:12, 23 January 2012 (UTC)

UK Wikimedian of the Year 2012

Thoughts? Corrections - Comments welcomed Victuallers 17:13, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

Comparison of UK NDA with WMF NDA

According to Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2012-02-20/Special_report, the WMF is in the habit of asking Wikimedians to sign a NDA for access to some data. Perhaps someone could track it down on-wiki (assuming it has been openly published) so that we can review Non Disclosure Agreement against their best practice? Thanks -- (talk) 11:09, 25 February 2012 (UTC)

I signed their NDA when I was helping out with some fundraising stuff while visiting their office. I don't have an electronic copy, and I don't know where the paper copy is. I made them modify their standard one before I would sign it (to make it clearer than it referred onto to things related to what I was doing in the office). While the non-disclosure stuff in pretty much what you would expect, they also have a non-disparagement clause. I discussed it with Mike Godwin (who was general counsel at the time - Geoff might have changed the standard agreement after he took over), who explained that they idea was to stop people using their privileged information to attack the WMF (as Danny Wool once did, if your wiki-memory goes back that far). I can see the logic in that (which is why I did eventually sign it, once appropriately restricted). --Tango (talk) 14:33, 25 February 2012 (UTC)
I was talking to Geoff about this at the finance meeting last weekend. I've dropped him an email to follow up on that and to see what's available here. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 18:06, 25 February 2012 (UTC)

House style

For this website and WMUK reports (e.g. the next Annual Report in production) and documents it would be useful to define a local Manual of Style including topics such as colour, plain English, when to use logo variations and so forth. Obviously if it can piggy-back on existing WMF or Wikipedia guidelines then we can simply defer to those pages. Has any of this been mentioned on another page or would it be useful to start creating it from scratch? -- (talk) 11:21, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

Perhaps the new comms person could prepare something? It would be good to have some community consultation, but most of it should be pretty uncontroversial. --Tango (talk) 19:15, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

Compliance with blocks and bans elsewhere

At the moment blocks or bans on :wmuk would be considered on a case by case basis. Is there any reason for us to consider the status of long term blocks or bans on Wikimedia projects such as the English Wikipedia or Wikimedia Commons? Considering that :en is so closely entwined with most of our events, it might be sensible to take the status of a contributor on that project into account when considering how an account should be handled on this wiki. In particular someone with a history of deliberately disrupting those main projects can be argued to be in a default status of failing to comply with the :wmuk defined mission and values. -- (talk) 10:37, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

As and when situations arise, then that information should be taken into consideration - but I don't think there's a need for us to take any sort of proactive approach here. Mike Peel (talk) 10:53, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
No disagreement and should it arise, then I think we ought to take into account any long term disruptive history elsewhere to judge how accounts can be trusted for this wiki. In contrast, for Commons the community deliberately ignore the status of current blocks or bans on other projects as irrelevant unless there has been agreement on :meta for a global ban (which we ought to comply with). In general, our contributor community is likely to stay small, so I doubt this will become a significant policy matter. -- (talk) 12:36, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
Sounds good to me. We should consider each case on its own merits, but it makes sense to take conduct on other sites into account. --Tango (talk) 19:18, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

Request for bot flag

Hi all! Please may User:Thehelpfulbot have the bot flag, I can run a double redirect fixer to empty Special:DoubleRedirects, this already runs without problems on the English Wikipedia and Meta-Wiki. On a site note, could an admin tweak Sidebar from Membership|Join from 'Membership|Join us? The latter sounds a bit more friendly. It may also be a good idea to add a link to the Board itself, so directly under "Organisation". The Helpful One 23:47, 8 April 2012 (UTC)

Sure, sounds good, thanks for volunteering to fix these. :-) The only problem is that User:Thehelpfulbot is not currently registered on this wiki, though (the userpage exists, but not the user account). If you can create the account, then I'll set the bot flag for it.
On the sidebar changes: I've changed it to read 'Join us'. I'm not sure about linking to Board since there's already rather a lot of links in the sidebar...
Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 10:04, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
Huh! I was sure that I had logged in on this wiki. Thehelpfulbot (talk) 10:48, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
Done. Mike Peel (talk) 00:50, 10 April 2012 (UTC)

Random ideas page

Random ideas<-- things we could consider.Geni (talk) 23:01, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

Request for comment

I am drafting a proposal at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Pine/drafts/ENWP_Board_of_Education and would like input from chapters. I would appreciate comments on the talk page. Thank you! Pine (talk) 10:52, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

How do we reduce the creeping "legalese" of our constitution and policy documents?

Hi, I have raised a question around how better to handle difficult wording on our key documents at Talk:Articles_of_Association#Difficult_legal_language, though I'm thinking that this is a more general problem that could do with rather more plain English advocacy. Anyone have good ideas on how to make this guff a bit more digestible? Cheers -- (talk) 11:17, 13 May 2012 (UTC)

Does Navigation popups work for you on WMUK?

I just tried out Navigation popups (check your preferences, gadgets) but it does not display correctly for me, in fact it leaves a nasty mess of un-wiped text for every internal link I hover over. Anyone have a fix? -- (talk) 13:46, 31 May 2012 (UTC)

I've had a look and they don't work for me either. Pretty nasty! --Stevie Benton (talk) 15:34, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
This is something I've noticed with the popups on some other wikis, too. Does some custom CSS need to be added to MediaWiki:Common.css? Rock drum (talkcontribs) 15:53, 31 May 2012 (UTC)

How commonly is the water cooler used?

Hello everyone. As you may be aware I'm working on reviewing our communications and writing our comms strategy at the moment. One thing I wanted to take a look at in my examination of the WMUK wiki is the water cooler. I'd like to get a handle on how many people come here. So, if you're reading this before Friday 8 June, would you please pop a note here? Many thanks. --Stevie Benton (talk) 15:36, 31 May 2012 (UTC)

I'm afraid this test isn't going to work. A lot of us follow this wiki by keeping an eye on recent changes, so having lots of people posting here will attract more people. It's not the kind of page that you specifically go to to see if anything interesting has been posted. You come here when you notice it on recent changes or your watchlist. --Tango (talk) 15:58, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
That in itself will have some value for me actually. I want to see how something on here develops in real time and how many people will respond to something without being directly pointed there. Thanks for the heads-up though, I appreciate it :) --Stevie Benton (talk) 16:06, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
You might be better off looking through the page history and seeing how actual discussions here developed. Asking people to respond is very artificial, which will severely limit the usefulness of your results. (I'm an actuary in real life, so I have a thing about statistically well-designed studies!) --Tango (talk) 17:33, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
I have recent changes on my RSS feed and that led me here. If the wiki gets busier and this becomes the place to announce new stuff I might switch to just having this page on my RSS (every history page is an RSS feed). Filceolaire (talk) 20:30, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
I agree, it's a matter of how long a piece of elastic might be. You start to get the Observer effect. I think you might find that what's most salient about your aim of trying to write a comms startegy is that you start developing relationships with different editors. These human interactions take place at a level somewhat distinct from the sort of formal assessment of what a strategy might be.Leutha (talk) 23:15, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
I tried to adapt a metric from Wikiversity at Water cooler/metrics but I couldn't suss out the right code, so the first one (April 2011) gets us to the Ukrainian wikipedia. (I left the others unchanged so you end up at WV.) I tried looking at Meta, but they seem to have a way of jumping from UK.Wikipedia to UK.wikimedia. Anyway, I need a break so I thought someone else might like to have a crack at this. Basically it allows you to set up a metric on the page and keep track of viewings. Leutha (talk) 23:37, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
It doesn't get that much use, but it's the most logical place to discuss things to do with the wiki itself (as opposed to the chapter). Stevie, it might interest you to know that the Wikipedia equivalent, the village pumps, also tend not to get very much attention except when people are pointed there. Harry Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 23:48, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
Thanks everyone for your comments, very much appreciated. --Stevie Benton (talk) 12:49, 6 June 2012 (UTC)

QRpedia coordination page

I know that outreach:GLAM/QR_codes exists, but I'm wondering if a page on :wmuk would be useful to point to for folks to understand the QRpedia agreement with WMUK, the status of the open source code, trademark agreement and where to report bugs in an emergency; or should we just point to the :outreach page and improve that? -- (talk) 09:45, 3 June 2012 (UTC)

How to attract an administrator's attention

We have a template for recommending the speedy deletion of a page (Template:Delete), which does sometimes get used by non-administrators when they need a page deleted. This includes the page in Category:Speedy deletions so an administrator can spot it and delete it. However, as an administrator, I never look at that category. I keep an eye on this wiki simply by looking at recent changes. I do sometimes spot and delete pages tagged with that template, but only because I saw it on recent changes, so the template didn't actually help. Do other administrators check that category on a regular basis? If not, should we come up with a better way to find an admin? Or is having admins looking at recent changes enough, in which case we don't really need the template? What are people's thoughts (admins and non-admins alike)? --Tango (talk) 13:38, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

I didn't even know that category existed. Whenever I delete something, it's always from the recent changes. I think the template is mostly used by people who do small wiki monitoring. With this being a fairly quiet wiki, there's probably no need for a dedicated system for reaching an admin (there are plenty of us compared to the amount of work for us to do), but the template does no harm and it might be useful if the wiki gets busier. Harry Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 17:12, 24 June 2012 (UTC)
Personally, I did know that template & category existed, but I do things from recent changes as well given that the wiki is small enough to do that and not miss anything. The template does no harm, and maybe useful for some. Any other potential methods for contacting admins would probably be more bureaucracy than is worth. KTC (talk) 19:31, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

More about the footer

I just saw the thread #Huge foot and looked at the footer.

I thought "About Wikimedia UK! That would be a useful place to put info like an address..." But then discovered that the page explicitly isn't about Wikimedia UK, it is about the the Wikimedia UK wiki.

Maybe where the footer says "About Wikimedia UK" it should say "About the Wikimedia UK wiki"

And another thing... if the linked page is about the wiki, why is it called Help:Contents? Surely it should be called Wikimedia:About. (Wikimedia:About is currently a redirect to Help:Contents)

Yaris678 (talk) 17:10, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

Good points. Perhaps you could be bold and improve the pages and links? :-) Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 19:12, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
OK... well... I have moved Help:Contents to Wikimedia:About... But that is about as far as I can take it. I can't edit MediaWiki:Aboutpage (I would need to be an admin)... so unfortunately if you click on "About Wikimedia UK" you now get the little message saying "(Redirected from Help:Contents)".
Someone with admin rights will also need to edit MediaWiki:Aboutsite so that it says "About the Wikimedia UK wiki".
Happy to make these changes myself if someone gives me admin rights.
Yaris678 (talk) 21:28, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
I have changed MediaWiki:Aboutpage. I'll leave any changes to MediaWiki:Aboutsite to someone else to decide whether the above suggestion is the best wording. KTC (talk) 21:49, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for doing that change.
Anyone got an idea for a better phrase to put in the footer?
Would anyone like to argue in favour of the current situation (where it says "About Wikimedia UK" and then you click on it and the page says "This page is not for those seeking help in contacting WMUK (instead, see here), and more details about the exact structure of WMUK are on the main page. Instead, this page gives advice for editors of the wiki.")
Anyone think we should do something completely different? Like make "About Wikimedia UK" link to Contact us?
Yaris678 (talk) 00:59, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

Page of volunteers?

We have pages for Staff and the Board, which would naturally come together under the heading of 'People' (in particular thinking about the sidebar link), but that wouldn't include the most important people for the organisation - volunteers. I'm wondering if it's worth starting a similar page giving profiles of some volunteers, or whether that wouldn't be sustainable, or if there aren't volunteers interested in being featured on such a page. What do you all think? Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 00:10, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

We all have userpages don't we? I've no objection to others creating something else, but the first place I'd look for a profile would be someone's userpage. WereSpielChequers (talk) 18:04, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
How would you choose who to have on the page? We have lots of volunteers, contributing various amounts in various ways, and we'll hopefully have even more in the future - far too many to have profiles of all of them. --Tango (talk) 16:49, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

Maybe interested volunteers could give their User page a category, ie: volunteers? That way it would be self administering and opt in.Leutha (talk) 06:02, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

You could create a category for user pages & link that at a people page, or link to a Special: list (Eek, not Special:ListUsers!). Not sure it's worth doing more, per the above comments. But few people have much on their pages here, except links to WP. Johnbod (talk) 17:47, 5 August 2012 (UTC)
Something like Category:Active volunteers for Wikimedia UK? I think it's important to specify that we are talking about people who do stuff for WMUK... if we get onto people who voluntarily contribute to a Wikimedia wiki then the list is long and useless. Yaris678 (talk) 08:09, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
Not too keen on this particular idea - "active blah" categories always rot faster than you can update them. Deryck Chan (talk) 19:18, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps if we were to have volunteer cats they should be specific ones - this editor is willing to help do x or y. That way when you need a couple of volunteers to help out at an event you can contact people in that category rather than email the whole mailing list. WereSpielChequers (talk) 19:18, 11 August 2012 (UTC)
For what it's worth, I've been creating a UK "GLAM Connect" hub for GLAM professionals which includes (or at least, will include) a list of Wikimedians interested in GLAM and working with institutions. You can see this at Cultural partnerships/Connect; perhaps something like this could be created for other outreach projects, too. Regards, Rock drum (talkcontribs) 20:20, 11 August 2012 (UTC)
OK, thanks for the feedback. I've created People, and Category:Wikimedia UK volunteers to serve these roles, please help improve the former and/or add yourself to the latter. :-) Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 20:12, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
NB, I didn't go for specific categories as I was aiming for something simple that can organically grow, rather than going specific directly. Please feel free to create more specific categories as you think are needed, or want to categorise yourself into. :-) Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 20:14, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

en.wikipedia Meetups template

Just spotted this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Meetup-UK - which I think Pigsonthewing set up a couple of years ago. Looks like we could make use of it (I wouldn't mind putting it on my Wikipedia user page, for instance) but it doesn't seem to work at present... any idea whether this can be fixed? The Land (talk) 21:33, 12 August 2012 (UTC)

It looks like it has to be updated manually. There is nothing broken about it, it just hasn't been updated for 2 years. --Tango (talk) 22:17, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
meta:Template:Meetup list is probably a better template to use, since that's where most (all?) UK wikimeets tend to be listed. Cross-wiki inclusion would be a really nice feature to have... Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 20:16, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

The co-opted trustee

The press release says that the board would decide on a replacement for Joscelyn over the in-person board meeting last weekend, but I don't see anything along those lines in the minutes. What is going to happen? Deryck Chan (talk) 11:03, 10 September 2012 (UTC)

Hi Deryck. The Board are currently considering their options and there will be an update in due course. Thanks. --Stevie Benton (WMUK) (talk) 16:40, 10 September 2012 (UTC)
Hi Deryck, if you hadn't yet seen, the Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Saad Choudri to the Board. --RexxS (talk) 13:43, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

WMUK membership survey

We're currently in the process of developing a WMUK membership survey. A page has been popped up on this Wiki for comments and suggestions. Please do get involved with the discussion here. Thanks! --Stevie Benton (WMUK) (talk) 16:42, 10 September 2012 (UTC)

Improvements to the Trustee Code of Conduct

I have raised some suggestions for improvements to the code at Talk:Trustee_Code_of_Conduct#Conflict_of_Interest_Policy. I would welcome comments and further suggestions on how we can take a conservative approach to trustee interests without excluding anyone with reasonable expertise to bring to the board. We may be at a point where the consensus is that no trustee can serve who has any financial interest (as opposed to direct financial interest), though this might become difficult to interpret at the time of the next election if members come forward prepared to serve, who have related valuable experience to bring to the board that they claim is "manageable" and therefore allowable under Charity Commission guidelines. That word "manageable" is tripping us up right now, and some on-wiki discussion may help define it in a way that is credible to the outside world (such as the WMF) and yet pragmatic for the benefit of our charity. -- (talk) 10:22, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

Glad to see such efforts. -- w:User:Lexein 19:51, 20 September 2012 (UTC)


Thanks, WMUK, but it's not enough. This does nothing to a) address the public perception of Wikimedia/Wikipedia's ability to police itself (follow both the letter and spirit of all pillar/policy/guideline), or b) repair the damage done to Wikipedia's credibility and reputation.

  • A public list of edits by whom at WMUK, related to Gibraltarpedia (including DYK promotions) should be published in a press release, with classification of each as non-controversial, promotional of Gibraltar, self-promotional of Wikipedia, or inappropriately collaborative with an external entity.
  • The Gibraltarpedia project itself should be, as I've said elsewhere, shut, disavowed, and salted, and all involved editors should publicly self-topic-ban for one year. The independence and status of Wikipedia as an encyclopedia which documents, but does not serve, any entity or individual, must be firmly reasserted, and if it has never been asserted before, it should be asserted now.(I struckthrough my scorched-earth approach above, see note below) --Lexein (talk) 17:03, 25 September 2012 (UTC))
  • I can't help thinking that none of these remedial actions would have been needed if clean hands had been kept at WMUK, with only independent volunteer public editors doing the edits, in the tradition of IRC:en-wikipedia-help, with no meatpuppetry.--wikipedia:User:Lexein 19:51, 20 September 2012 (UTC) (Postscript: for "clean hands" read: "Best practices regarding disclosure". See note below) --Lexein (talk) 17:03, 25 September 2012 (UTC))
  • Oh, and by the way, I know this is self-draconian and extreme, but what else will strongly indicate Wikimedia/Wikipedia's commitment to independence, unalloyed neutrality, and ability to recognize and respond to even the appearance of impropriety? --wikipedia:User:Lexein 20:46, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
  • Notes as of five days later. On the 20th Roger posted a disclosure at DYK (also noted below) which, if posted sooner, would have addressed many of my concerns, and moderated my firebrand demand above. Such disclosures should be made at project start, and publicly be released instantly if reports in the press of a perceived scandal occur. I have struckthrough a portion of my response above to more closely reflect my current stance. After review, I see majority volunteer edits, and little in-article POV, though some primary sourcing issues. I disagree with large-scale collaboration and highly concentrated article creation for the benefit of an entity, but I address that elsewhere. --Lexein (talk) 17:03, 25 September 2012 (UTC)
    • AFAIK The only WMUK trustee involved (beyond the odd edit) in Gibraltarpedia is Roger (now ex-trustee of course). You can see his contributions at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/Victuallers, which do include edits to some Gibraltarpedia articles, as well as organizing stuff on talk pages etc. Whether the 500-odd bytes he added to the 18th century Great Siege Tunnels, one of the articles he has added most to, are "non-controversial, promotional of Gibraltar, self-promotional of Wikipedia, or inappropriately collaborative with an external entity" I'll leave you to judge. He has stated that the consultancy he is doing does not include editing, though it does include training editors. It is not within the power of WMUK to shut down the project, even if we wished to do so. I have not seen any suggestion that the vast majority of edits to project articles are not being done by "independent volunteer public editors", as they have been in all the other very successful projects Roger has been involved with. Finding, channelling and enthusing such editors is Roger's special talent. Johnbod (talk) 21:47, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
Yes, it's officially only one person. I shall repeat: Resignation may be necessary, but it cannot be sufficient. This does nothing to a) address the public perception of Wikimedia/Wikipedia's ability to police itself (follow both the letter and spirit of all pillar/policy/guideline), or b) repair the damage done to Wikipedia's credibility and reputation. Organizational or procedural changes must also follow. If I'm wrong, correct me. Roger placed a well-detailed development report at WT:Did you know‎, and I responded there. IMHO, full public disclosure like that, early, and instantly, would have gone far to blunt the damage done. Given that that's now impossible, WMF/WP has to do something else. --wikipedia:User:Lexein 04:48, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
I am taking some time out to write a longer reply, please read this as a personal viewpoint as I have chosen to respond without confirming that my (rather busy!) fellow trustees support the specific detail of this response. I would be happy to tweak my reply should any trustee be concerned about my wording.
I agree we have been unacceptably slow to respond and communicate with our members. It should be noted that we have been in the process of seeking external advice and improving our Trustee Code of Conduct since March this year, in fact we had no such document in place for the trustees to sign up to, until the AGM in May. I first alerted the trustees to the issue blowing up on DYK on Saturday (and have been personally incredibly frustrated that we were incapable of making a response within 24 hours). Unfortunately our CEO is in the middle of a family emergency (spending much of his time at the hospital) and our Communication Officer is on holiday. As a result, much of the hard work of considering what the response to urgent inquiries should be, has been down to unpaid volunteer trustees. We take the matter seriously but only managed to have a telecon on Wednesday, where we could follow our due process and make the joint decisions to co-opt Saad as a trustee and sadly accept Roger's resignation from the board, it was an emotional and difficult discussion. At that same meeting we *had* to agree the budget underpinning the 2013 Activity Plan as part of our necessary functioning as a charity, it was a very, very full discussion.
Lexein, please keep in mind that our role as trustees is quite limited. We have no control over what our individual members do on Wikimedia projects and trustees are expected to follow their conscience on such matters within the Trustee Code of Conduct. Roger's activities pre-date our code of conduct, a situation that has for many months caused the Board to have long and difficult discussion where we repeatedly failed to achieve a full consensus, and for current or future trustees this situation (where a trustee was receiving indirect but closely related financial benefit) could not happen as it would be in conflict with our reading of the code based on the conservative interpretation of Charity Commission guidelines we have adopted. Much of our difficult discussion has been in-camera, which in retrospect may have been a mistake in terms of applying our Values and I intend to clarify the limits of how the Board intends use in-camera sessions in future; a matter I have previously raised with the Board, particularly where there may be resulting delay in effectively managing a reputational risk to the charity (a key responsibility of trustees).
I accept that organizational and procedural changes must follow this damaging incident, and I have already proposed improvements to the code to make it clearer on the issue of interests, I welcome your comments on further improvements you would like to see.
The Board can take action to withdraw membership from anyone that has demonstrably failed to support our Mission and we would require any trustee to step down from the board if they fail to support the Trustee Code of Conduct; we have no authority over a member's or a trustee's actions on the Wikimedia projects, though their actions on the projects may be used as evidence of a failure to support the Mission or a failure to comply with the Trustee Code of Conduct.
In response to an inquiry this week from the Wikimedia Foundation, we have been preparing a full explanation of the background to Roger's work with Gibraltarpedia, how his interest has been declared and managed throughout this year (Roger's interest has been a key topic of discussion at every board meeting this year), including gaining external expert advice from a charity governance expert in March 2012 and legal advice at the beginning of September 2012 (as a result of which we took the step of writing, before this incident, to the Charity Commission for their comments on our approach, and are awaiting their reply); the advice was given with explanation of Roger's declared interests and known plans for future work. Several trustees and staff have spent significant time checking the facts and putting the explanation together. I understand that a version of this same information will be made public shortly.
I, and other trustees, have opinions on how the DYK process should improve and the analysis that could be done to support improvement, but that is a matter for those that contribute to the English Wikipedia rather than the UK Chapter.
I certainly would like to be in a position where we can respond "instantly" (or at least within one working day of significant questions being raised), though in terms of disclosure, Roger has been making determined efforts to make full public disclosures, for example during his re-election at the AGM, at board meetings, at Wikimania and during Wikimeet discussions. Any question raised with Roger about his interest from any member or non-member has been responded to calmly and promptly. Despite no longer being on the Board, Roger has shown no shortage of goodwill in helping us with supplying information and clarifying his position; he has my full respect for keeping calm under pressure. However from the viewpoint of the charity, I do not dispute that our communication of the risk and our steps to deal with it over the last few months, was not effective or sufficiently proactive, and when our Communications Manager is available the Board will be seeking his advice and plan on the improvement necessary to our processes, and how we can disclose information in a more effective way to ensure we meet our values to stay open and transparent in our operations as a charity; in my view we are currently failing to meet those values that our members demand and as trustees we hold dear, that is not an acceptable situation, fortunately I can assure you it is improving and the trustees are absolutely committed to delivering on these values.
Side note - For those in the UK, our next in-person board meeting is on the weekend of the 17th November. If at that time anyone still feels we have not taken sufficient action and would like to opportunity to publicly hold us to account, please do come along, ask for a slot on the agenda (preferably a couple of weeks in advance!), and bend our ears. Our quarterly board meetings are open, and we fully welcome independent views being presented on how we can improve processes and manage risks more effectively than we have seen to date. Thanks -- (talk) 07:01, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
Update After posting the above, I can see an email confirming that a blog post as an official statement from the Chapter, with a summary of the facts, will be on the blog later today. -- (talk) 07:22, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
Update I have now released the blog post at http://blog.wikimedia.org.uk/2012/09/gibraltarpedia-the-facts/ in which Chris lays out the key facts on behalf of the Board of trustees. Thanks -- (talk) 10:09, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
I appreciate the extended response, as one who is as ignorant of the inner machinations of WMUK as the public. I'm not sure the WMUK chapter yet realizes the Wikipedia-wide exposure and crisis of confidence this has triggered. Unfortunately, the blog post's flat and somewhat angry declaration of "fact" is (to use wikipedia:User;Orangemike's term) tone-deaf to the appearance of impropriety, and thus does nothing to assert or guarantee Wikipedia's independence from other entities or persons. Why should Wikipedia or Wikimedia have any hand in helping Gibraltar expand its tourism? Is Wikipedia's job to document, but not serve, or not?
I hope measures will be put in place to guarantee that the encyclopedia will always be and appear to be, at all costs, independent. I'd rather lose a project than have the encyclopedia suffer any further loss of credibility or public faith. Full and rapid crisis disclosure, and, better than that, full disclosure at the start of a project, will be helpful. The appearance of loss of independence was predicted by those of us who were called "paranoid". Fortunately, future risk of such appearance of loss of independence can be predicted by forward-looking risk analysis, if implemented as organizational best practice. --wikipedia:User:Lexein 12:55, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
To pick up on one of your recommendations, you may want to take a look at Risk Register. I would say that is in a poor draft state with a lot more work needed, your viewpoint for some more forward-looking risks and suggestions on potential countermeasures would be welcome additions to the associated discussion page so that trustees and management can take them on-board.
As I mentioned above, I agree "full and rapid crisis disclosure" is a requirement we need to meet as our response times are inadequate. I find your criticism that the blog post appears an "angry declaration" or that we seem "tone-deaf" to the appearance of impropriety, hard to roll over and accept, having seen from the inside how desperately seriously the trustees have treated the issues this week, and the huge amount of work we have all put into governance and communications improvement throughout the year, I am prepared to accept that we have failed to communicate this improvement to the wider community and that trust in our charity will take a lot more work, from everyone involved, to rebuild. If the title "Gibraltarpedia, the facts" appears angry to you, I am open to suggestions of a better and less aggressive wording.
The fact is, that is less than a year since we became a charity and less than a year since we took on our first employee. Our rapid growth has been impressive, taking on employees more quickly, I believe, than any other chapter in the same position. That itself is a cause for concern, and as a trustee I have questioned several times if we have sufficiently established best practices that can support our new organization. It was with this in mind that in 2011, I first pushed the idea of being assessed against PQASSO before the 2012 fund-raiser, as the most prominent UK quality standard for charities, and this programme of improvement had put us in good standing in comparison to charities of a similar size. I make a personal commitment to continue to challenge, and reject, planning further rapid growth, should we be seen to be unable to put plans, processes and policies in place that can credibly handle the risks that we need to address, including the current one of failures to be seen properly to manage declarations of interest. Thanks -- (talk) 13:27, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
But the blog post doesn't acknowledge the damage to Wikipedia's credibility and loss of public confidence, or the internal crisis of confidence, except to imply that they don't exist, because nothing bad happened. If it wasn't tone-deaf, what was it? Maybe it wasn't angry, but what was it? Cheerfully arms-crossed teeth-gritted "not our problem?" What sort of posture is that for WMUK to take? The Gibraltarpedia page, project page, articles, and DYKs are all still there, for everyone to see, and we don't have a position from WMUK except "not our problem." I'm not having a go, here. Just count the donations box, day by day (see below in re 2007). I wish I could have done a rewrite of that post - it was a truly lost opportunity. As for the rest, I heartily hope for the best in re PQASSO, and risk analysis. I'll look at that with interest. --wikipedia:User:Lexein 13:52, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
Fair comment. I'll pass on your paragraph here to the board and see if we are prepared to and add more to the post to address the point that we have not done sufficient to acknowledge a loss of credibility in our community. Thanks -- (talk) 13:58, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. I don't claim to be right, just less wrong than previously thought. I do not envy the participants in that conversation. As for the title, I suggest this: "Gibraltarpedia: WMUK press release 21.09.2012" It signifies importance beyond a usual blog post, keeps any claims or bias out of the title, implies that the situation is developing, being considered, and that the last word is yet to be written. --wikipedia:User:Lexein 14:41, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
I have only had two responses so far from the Board, but have gone ahead and changed the blog post title to "Gibraltarpedia: WMUK press release" in line with your suggestion. Chris Keating is currently considering a second blog post to go out over the weekend, that will discuss our improvement plan and should acknowledge the damage and loss of credibility we have seen in the past week. Thanks for your feedback, particularly your comments at Talk:Risk Register. -- (talk) 17:25, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
Lexein, your request is more than Draconian and extreme- it is phrased in ways that imply you object to Wikimedia's core activities. To carry out our mission to the fullest extent, we have to work in partnership with a variety of partner organisations. These are situations that should benefit all parties: when a museum or gallery helps improve Wikipedia improve coverage about its holdings, more of the world's knowledge and culture is made freely available, Wikipedia and its sister projects are improved, and the partner organisation benefits from increased public interest, maybe even increased funding.
There are almost inevitably costs involved in these partnerships, and it's not possible or desirable for WMUK pay all of them. When the partner organisation pays practically all the costs, as is the case with Gilbraltarpedia, then we should count that as a very good thing, and well done to the Wikimedians who negotiated it.
Wikimedia UK is the national charity promoting and supporting Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects. It's absurd to imply that activity that is "promotional of Wikipedia" is some sort of offence, especially as the only activity promoting Wikipedia that seems to have taken place is putting more sourced, factual content so that search engines have more text to find. I'm not aware even of an allegation that information about Wikipedia, anywhere, was distorted by Gilbraltarpedia. As for "promotional of Gibraltar", show us some Gilbraltar-related edits by Victuallers that are not in line with Wikipedia's policies, then we have a concrete allegation to go on. If we get worked up about the mere logical possibility of biased edits, when the potential conflict of interest was already declared and public, that way madness lies.
When reality and public perception wildly diverge, I personally urge the board to ground their decisions in the reality rather than the perception. I also urge them to ignore extreme requests: success in Wikipedia's/Wikimedia's mission is not some kind of horrible offence for which highly effective contributors have to be metaphorically flogged. MartinPoulter (talk) 12:05, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
No. Martin, you fail to understand just how much damage was done to the entire Wikipedia project by the appearance of impropriety and appearance of loss of independence. It is not the encyclopedia's mission to collaborate or be steered by external organizations. Its mission is to document, but not to serve. It's fine that articles were written and expanded, but that should have been done long before Gibraltar ever expressed any interest in expanding their tourism. Understand? Now, every one of those new and expanded articles is tainted, and must be combed through by uninvolved editors to assure NPOV, and citation only of independent reliable and hopefully scholarly sources. Wikipedia's core activity is to document, and not to serve, entities and individuals. I would rather lose some random pet project, than have Wikipedia suffer any further loss of credibility, public confidence, or independence.
Martin, your notion of reality is distorted by what you want Wikimedia's mission to be, rather than what its stated aims are. If its stated aims are indeed to collaborate and serve external masters, then holy hell, this place really is a corrupt scam, and all the public detractors are right. -- wikipedia:User:Lexein 12:55, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
Addendum1: Martin, I acknowledged above that other measures exist than shutting down a project. IMHO such a closure should be considered dispassionately in light of the long-term interests of the encyclopedia, over any short-term funding needs. In my opinion the needs of the encyclopedia (credibility, independence, neutrality) will always trump the needs of its parent organization(s). There are ways donors can contribute without a conflict of interest: Gibraltar, I think, was mishandled. Perhaps this can be remediated without draconian measures; to do so and regain public confidence? That's a (I think) much tougher challenge. -- wikipedia:User:Lexein 13:16, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
Assendum2: Damage to Wikipedia's credibility is concretely measurable. "Wikipedia Paid Posts Scandal" shows a nice graph of the decline in 2007 donations from 22 Feb to 17 Mar around the Essjay scandal (if the causality and correlation is valid after correcting for normal donation fluctuations). I'm not making this stuff up. It's more like the stock market than you want to admit, I guess: public confidence drops will result in donation drops. Mixed-metaphorically, playing fast and loose will cost you, but running a tight ship and keeping a clean house provide long term benefits which are hard to deny. -- wikipedia:User:Lexein 13:34, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
Lexein I really believe you are way overestimating the influence this storm in a teacup has on public confidence in Wikipedia. There has been no allegation that Victuallers has, at any time, done anything that that was not in the interest of making the encyclopedia better. Not one single edit he has done has been shown to be less than neutral in it's content. His work with Gibraltarpedia has been successful in attracting new editors - the most crucial task facing the WMF today. The discussion has been about what might be seen if you were to look crooked and this discussion has been confined to various Wikipedia insider discussion pages, none of which get more that a few thousand visitors. Meanwhile the encyclopedia has millions of visitors all of whom find interesting and useful information which make them think well of Wikipedia and all associated with it.
If Victuallers is available for hire as a consultant then the WMF should hire him right now, full time, to do for the rest of the world what he has done for Monmouth and is doing for Gibraltar. Filceolaire (talk) 19:45, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
If I'm overestimating, good. But the editor influx rates, editing rates, and donation rates will tell. I have not, and nobody else is, making I have not, and nobody else should have made, (typo corr) accusations of malicious misdeeds. We are concerned mostly about the appearance of impropriety, based on the confluence of events as they played out. That almost more than actual misdeeds, damages public perception of organizations and institutions. Wikipedia is almost an institution in stature, and keeping its house actually in order, and appearing to be in order, is becoming more important over time. I think Victualler's editorial work should continue. His project innovation work too, with attention paid to public perception risk analysis; that's just best practices. There is a disconnect between what Wikimedia boards and staff think the mission is, and what Wikipedia editors think the mission is; one word in focus is "collaboration" as it applies to external entities.
If I'm wrong in thinking that Wikipedia should document, but not serve, entities and people, and should remain stubbornly independent even from donors, well, that's certainly a discussion which should be had. --wikipedia:User:Lexein 22:52, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
(Reprise of my response to Roger's disclosures:
Looking at dates in edit logs and discussions, here's how it looks:
  • The sudden creation/expansion/DYKs of all those Gibraltar-related articles has the appearance of serving Gibraltar's presumed desire for more content accessible to tourists with QR codes.
  • It is an uncomfortable coincidence of possibly innocent events.
  • It is arguably pleasing the benefactor, innocent (enthusiastic volunteers are great!), or not (sense of obligation in the mind of a senior editor, or worse, seeking a goal of more articles for the QRcode plaques). It has an unavoidable risk of appearing not to be fully independent. An encyclopedia must, at its core, be, and appear to be, independent.
  • Combined with the paid training of editors, it is a small predictable synaptic leap to the unhappy conclusions drawn by outsiders, and skeptical editors such as myself. Any PR person will remind us that appearance is reality.
In this case, I claim that the order of events matters more than the senior editor imagined.
If (1) the articles had already slowly expanded, and no DYKs had been sought, then Gibraltar had said, "Cool, we want to QRcode the nation!", my concerns would be largely, but not completely, addressed. Then, any consultation (paid or unpaid) would have been related solely to the creation of QRcode plaques to existing articles, a valid use and access of Wikipedia content, and could have been treated as a firewalled, non-conflicting activity.
If (2) (Roger's disclosures) had been widely publicly announced by Gibraltar and WMUK a) at the announcement of Gibraltarpedia, or b) instantly upon the breaking of the story, the damage may have been severely reduced. IMHO.)
End of reprise Addendum to (2): ... and the story would have gotten little or no traction.--User:Lexein (Talk)23:26, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
Lexein, one of the core values of Wikipedia is civility. I'll point out that there are better ways to express disagreement than "your notion of reality is distorted..." This isn't always the reason why people disagree with you.
Expansion and review of lots of Gibraltar-related articles is in line with Wikipedia's mission and also Wikimedia UK's mission "to help people and organisations build and preserve open knowledge to share and use freely." Note that I cite Wikimedia UK's actual mission, not some distorted version from my own mind. Not that Wikimedia UK has directly made GibraltarpediA happen, but from our mission you can see why Wikimedia UK and the wider community should and do look fondly on the project. Your language is a bit opaque as to what exactly is bad about this happening (as opposed to what people will think might bad if they are misinformed).
As for "Any PR person will remind us that appearance is reality." Yes they will. And you'll believe them? I don't: it reminds me of Orwell.
As a side point, why didn't you raise these objections about the MonmouthpediA project?
An enormous part of the work Wikimedia does is in collaboration. To make the whole of human knowledge freely available, we have to work with the people who create, preserve and curate that knowledge. Often that's individuals. Often it's GLAMs, universities, scholarly societies, and so on. We cannot achieve the Wikipedia vision, in its fullest sense, without their help. Hence Wikipedians in residence, joint events and the other kinds of collaboration. Getting a WIR fully funded by the AHRC is a huge success, and well done to the Wikimedians who negotiated it. Wikimedia UK has never hidden this: in fact collaborations are trumpeted on this site, the blog, the annual report and media coverage. You need to spell out in clear language how you demarcate the cases where collaboration violates independence, why GibraltarpediA is such a case, and why Wikimedians being "promotional of Wikipedia" is bad.
Presumably you're not presuming to speak for all Wikipedia editors. I'm a Wikipedia editor, and believe enough in Wikipedia's mission to devote serious time to it, but I don't fit into the "Wikipedia editors" part of your sentence about disconnect. MartinPoulter (talk) 14:41, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
"It's fine that articles were written and expanded, but that should have been done long before Gibraltar ever expressed any interest in expanding their tourism. Understand?" No, there seems to be a logical category error in putting this into a timeline. Gilbraltar always want to increase their tourism and we always want to bring the sum of human knowledge freely to the whole world. Wikipedia articles on every topic should be expanded to be the more reliable and comprehensive; there are no time parameters for when our goals should happen, just opportunities that make them more likely to happen. MartinPoulter (talk) 14:48, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
Filceolaire, thanks. I agree with you that the neutrality of the editing hasn't been credibly impugned, and I expect that if there had been promotional edits by Roger, Wikimedia UK's detractors would be posting links to them everywhere. I hope the future produces a Bristol-pediA, Highlands-pediA and (literally) Timbuktu-pediA. I hope these things happen all over the world, with the collaboration of local volunteers and organisations, and so bring in many new people and partners who didn't realise how they could actually participate in Wikipedia's mission. So the volunteers who have pushed ahead with this and shown it can be done need to be congratulated, not blocked and disavowed. MartinPoulter (talk) 14:56, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
I rephrase: your wish for what the WMUK's mission should be differs from what the WMUK's mission is, and both differ from WMF's mission, and the encyclopedia's mission.
This narrow defense on the grounds of "there's no rule against what was done" is at the heart of the problem. It's narrowminded, sophist, amoral, and stands in arms-folded smug disregard for the intent and spirit of the mission of the encyclopedia. Actions gotten away with are not actions provably good.
I think it's amusing that you're repetitively demanding proof of promotion of Wikipedia, as if that were a standalone complaint. It is not, as I have repeatedly made clear. You have, however, made me aware of a previously unnoticedproblem: quid pro quo. Promotion of Wikipedia on plaques in exchange for promotion of Gibraltar on Wikipedia. Thank you. This whole ghastly affair tears at the heart of Wikipedia's independence from outside influence, when that influence can be traded directly or indirectly.
This pretense of nonunderstanding is appalling. Since you require it, I shall explain the meanings of simple English sentences, and repeat the context of a sentence within the sentence, for you:
"It's fine that articles were written and expanded, but that should have been done long before Gibraltar ever expressed any interest to Wikipedia staff or volunteers in having Wikipedia editors create and expand Gibraltar-related articles for the benefit of Gibraltar tourism. The order of operations matters. The separation of external and internal activities matters. Who does what matters. Motivations matter. It beggars belief that these things do not matter to you.
Wikipedia should serve no master other than its own five pillars and the body of consensus-based policies and guidelines established over time. In my opinion the needs of the encyclopedia (credibility, independence, neutrality) outweigh the "mission" of its parent organization or nascent chapter thereof.
I do not care for Monmouthpedia either. There seems to have been less controversy about it, even though Victuallers claims it was all done exactly the same way as Gibraltarpedia; it obviously was not, for if it had been, it would have received controversial coverage too, and should have been shut, disavowed, and salted.
It's very simple: No Wikipedia project, which is sponsored, driven, demanded, suggested, hinted at, or requested by any external entity, should exist to create or expand articles about that entity, especially where that entity stands to benefit directly or indirectly (financially, for publicity, etc). That is, uncontroversially, the definition of conflict of interest, undue weight, thumb-on-scale, whatever-you-want-to-call-it: it has the stench of corruption, patronage, and non-independence. I have grave concerns about perversion of the aims of GLAM, as well, but that is not my target here. I'm appalled, but not surprised, that you are steadfastly refusing to see the (to me) obvious perversion of the encyclopedia's mission, in deference to your (or your chapter's) self-interested version of mission. No bureaucracy tolerates attention to its operation, or threats to its existence.
Our mission is to expand the documentation of knowledge, but not at the expense, or appearance of expense of independence, neutrality, and credibility. Volunteers are fine. Spontaneous actions are fine. Massaged, managed, or otherwise influenced creation of public relations coups for external entities are not fine. Not at all. --Lexein (talk) 18:03, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
I agree entirely with Lexein, and would like to expand on one point. It is said that no evidence has been produced of "whitewashing" or promotion in the articles written about Gibraltar. Maybe not, but that is not the only way in which bias can be introduced that favours a client. Bias in the UNDUE sense can be produced by helping a tourist board to recruit editors with the specific aim of writing articles about their tourist attractions. When this is done as a project whose declared aim is "marketing Gibraltar as a tourist product through Wikipedia", Wikipedia has strayed from its educational mission and is being used.
There now seems to be some back-pedalling, with claims that all this is nothing to do with WM-UK, but from the Gibraltar press-releases that is clearly not the impression they have; nor are the distinctions between Wikipedia, the WMF and WM-UK clear to the outside world. The highly undesirable message going out is "Here's a way to do marketing on the cheap: pay some money in the right place and Wikipedia will come and help boost your tourism!""
One reason why Wikipedia does not carry advertising is that our editorial integrity might be compromised, or perceived to be compromised, by a wish to please, or not to offend, the advertisers. Getting into bed with a marketing organization like the Gibraltar Tourist Board carries exactly the same risk. It may be too late to close down Gibraltarpedia, but we should learn from the public perception of it, and never do another. A public announcement that we have understood why it was a mistake might do something to alleviate the damage. --wikipedia:User:JohnCD (talk) 22:42, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
Lexein, I'll repeat that your theories about why people disagree with you are not necessarily correct. From the tone of this latest message and your edit summary, you're not keeping calm in this discussion. Nor are you addressing the points I set out: insisting repeatedly that the truth is obvious to you is not the way to progress a rational debate.
You accuse me of pretending not to understand your points: that's a direct accusation of bad faith. I'm giving you my honest opinions, and if you can't accept that, then what is the point of having the discussion?
In particular the theory that my opinions come from "No bureaucracy tolerates attention to its operation..." at least stands in need of explanation. What bureaucracy do you think I'm part of (apart from Wikipedia)? As for "self-interested version of mission", I quoted and linked the exact wording of the mission to refute your claim that my mind had created a distortion. If you want to insist that the words I quoted and the words on the page I linked are different, then go ahead. MartinPoulter (talk) 23:09, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
Martin, I get it. You're caught out, and you hate it. Your focus on me, rather than the substantive issues, is telling. I ignored your de minimus quote of "to help people and organisations build and preserve open knowledge to share and use freely" as a favor to you. It dangerously omits all mention of integrity, ethical boundaries on promotion, conflict of interest, and the mission of the encyclopedia: to document (but not serve), entities and persons. In fact, that particular quoted wording is, in my opinion, tailored with public relations in mind, with no protections of the encyclopedia's integrity whatsoever. If you maintain that that is WMUK's mission and intention, full stop, then it is a mission which is destined, at every promotional step, to continually undermine the encyclopedia's mission as a high integrity, trusted entity. Is it not your argument that that mission permits steering of creation/expansion of content by anyone who requests it, under rubric of its vague wording? --Lexein (talk) 05:18, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
John, thanks for weighing in: hopefully you'll be able to get across Lexein's points but in a way that Lexein is unwilling to. Just so that I know where you are coming from, can you set out your stance on cultural partnerships? The donation of thousands of Commons images from the Bundesarchiv resulted in increased commercial interest in that archive's holdings, and arguably a disproportionate weight of content in Commons about German foreign settlements in the 19th and early 20th Century. A local museum, by hosting events for Wikipedians, might benefit in terms of better articles about its holdings and hence increased public interest. It might even be the best use of their time if public interest is what they want (and surely it is). Do these collaborations, which result in more of the world's knowledge and culture being made freely and openly accessible to the whole planet, undermine Wikipedia's educational mission? MartinPoulter (talk) 23:19, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
No, those collaborations do not, nor do any of the "Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums" at which the GLAM project is aimed, because in all those cases the aim of the institution concerned lines up with our aim, to make knowledge freely available. The difference here is that the aim of the other party is commercial: "marketing Gibraltar as a tourist product through Wikipedia." Wikipedia is not for marketing anything, and I do not know what this project is doing under the GLAM umbrella.
It is alarming to read that Roger Bamkin has been "flooded with invitations from places around the world" who want to exploit Wikipedia in this way. This should be nipped in the bud. I think en:wp needs to set up some kind of gateway or approval mechanism for proposed joint collaborations which imply that Wikipedia is a partner but do not come under the strict definition of GLAM. --wikipedia:User:JohnCD (talk) 11:12, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
I have made a suggestion on those lines at wikipedia:WP:VPR#Pre-approval of collaborations. --wikipedia:User:JohnCD (talk) 22:33, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Agreed (one up), and well stated with links I failed to find earlier, JohnCD. The scale of involvement and the scale of the entity are important, as are the motivations of all involved parties. WMUK can step in and ensure that the motivations of involved parties are on the right side of foundation goals and the encyclopedia's independence and credibility. A museum is a different kind of entity than a government, with proportionally less ability to damage the independence, integrity, and credibility of the encyclopedia. --Lexein (talk) 00:17, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
Martin, the only "increased commercial interest" I am aware of is that some chap started selling the Bundesarchiv images on ebay, pretending he had the rights to them, and that the Bundesarchiv reluctantly ceased its cooperation with Wikimedia as a result. [1] --Andreas JN 11:59, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
I'm calling wikipedia:WP:UNCIVIL, Martin, for sideswiping me by name, above, while addressing another editor. Good grief. You've taken no stance here but that somehow I owe you something, while ignoring the quite positive interaction with Fae, above. Further, you've ignored scale. Against your not-much quid-pro-quo or arguably small-change examples above, I offer that newspaper and magazine editorial and advertising departments try to maintain a "firewall" between the two departments; where collaboration is unavoidable, it is called "advertorial", or "sponsored section", or "full disclosure of personal interest." We cite those sources, trusting that they will do their best to maintain their independence and editorial integrity, and we refrain from citing their ad-collaborative pieces. Wikipedia does not invite them to soirees to curry more articles we can use, that would be silly.
Alternative to shut/disavow/salt: Wikipedia projects and articles engendered from outside interests should be clearly labeled as follows (example):
This article was created (greatly expanded, pick one) under the auspices of promotional/collaborational project wikipedia:WP:Gibraltarpedia at the request of, and with the assistance from, the government of wikipedia:Gibraltar. At the time of the addition of this notice, the article met Wikipedia standards for neutrality, notability, and verifiability. This advisory tag will be removed in 2017, five years from the date of project-related creation/expansion.
You ask a question which is at once rhetorical, generalist and de minimus, omitting, or refusing to admit, crucial details differentiating those examples from this one. I repeat: The order of operations matters. The separation of external and internal activities matters. Who does what matters. Motivations matter. Martin, I chuckle when it seems you don't understand me, but I straighten up when it seems that you do understand, but still refuse to concede even one of my points, just because I wrote it. I reject any advertising or public relations use of Wikipedia, which implies that Wikipedia endorses, or supports, or is beholden to, or is not independent from, or is in any other way related to, the advertiser. In this case, Gibraltar. (No disrespect, Gibraltar, I'm sure you're very nice. Somebody should have warned you that Wikipedia in order to be credible, must be independent, and continue to also appear to be independent from outside interests, even nice ones.) --Lexein (talk) 05:18, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Lexein: You phrase all you pronouncements as absolute rules: what you reject; what you demand should be done, but Lexein you do not run Wikipedia and you don't get to decide what everyone else does.
The biggest crisis facing wikipedia is the reduction in editors. One of the the measures WMUK has taken to address this is to reach out to other organisations - museums, libraries, local councils, professional organisations, charities. Under your rules every one of these could be seen as having a Conflict Of Interest. In fact under your rules most editors and contributors to Wikipedia have a COI or at the very least they could be seen to have a COI because what attracts them to edit an article is their Interest in that topic. We work with Cancer UK on cancer articles but some Cancer research uses live animals; does that mean our articles on vivisection are no longer neutral?
Your proposal will drive more editors away and leave us with a Wikipedia which is sterile and pure and frozen in amber.
The Gibraltarpedia project is an experiment. It is different from what we have done before. It may be an amazing success. It may be a colossal failure. It may be somewhere in between. WMUK should encourage this experiment but watch it and see how it turns out. So far we have identified one way in which it is different from our usual practice. The flood of Gib DYKs has got some attention and scrutiny but not one person has found an edit which is improper or fails to improve the encyclopedia so there is no reason to call off this experiment yet. Opening up the patient for a post mortem before they are dead is not appropriate. Lets see how this turns out first. Filceolaire (talk) 18:04, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
I don't see "absolute" in my writing. I do see stern and dire and protectionist. I tire (wouldn't you?) of writing "IMHO" in every single sentence. I despair, and bridle: nobody else is suggesting, or supporting, concrete safeguards to the integrity, credibility, and independence of the encyclopedia from massive interference or grooming from outside interests. Nobody else is suggesting any way to reduce the appearance of impropriety. If 5-year tagging of outside-interest-sponsored-project-driven (farmed) articles will deter article farming, good! Maybe there's a more creative, less heavy-handed, cleaner approach, posing less risk to the encyclopedia's integrity. Consider this: if outside entities are gung-ho altruistically interested in supporting the creation of an encyclopedia for the ages, full stop, then they really shouldn't care what articles are created. Yes, there is self-interest, and that doesn't have to be ignored. So:
  • Second alternative to shut/disavow/salt to diffuse the effects of excessive influence and appearance of impropriety in a single area of article development: write two-for-Wikipedia to get one-for-the-project. To get an (externally-supported) Project (e.g. Gibraltar-related) article through DYK, also create/expand two non-Project DYK-ready articles from (say) the WP:Requested articles queue. This serves encyclopedia expansion, and greatly reduces almost all appearance of impropriety, IMHO. It makes the sponsor look better. This is modeled on DYK itself; effort reaps reward.
It's a non-onerous PR tax, and an influence tax. I'd call it "Here's the deal." The training for the editors is the same, and their experience researching, writing and editing three different article topics has value. Let's face it, who wants one DYK when you can achieve three?
I don't really see the editor attrition problem being addressed by single-purpose-focussed Project article creation sprints - perhaps that's not what you meant. I do value experiments: I wish Gibraltarpedia had been couched that way, but it wasn't, as JohnCD linked above. Finally: I must comment on the assertion that "not one person has found an edit which is improper" - I probably should go through and mark the dubious sources I spotted in one article. But so far, I've edited only wikipedia:Gibraltarpedia for ref expansion, to avoid muddying any of the discussion waters. --Lexein (talk) 00:17, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

Grants and scholarships

I was looking for detailed information on macrogrants, travel grants and scholarships the other day, but was unable to find any on this site.

Would it be possible to update these pages with the missing details, so that we have full transparency? Thanks. --Andreas JN 20:17, 21 September 2012 (UTC)

Sorry Andreas, we have all been so busy this week reading your dozens of multiply-posted screeds that other stuff has been piling up. This information would take some time to compile, which is no doubt why the pages have become outdated. I'm not sure when we will be able to do it. I'm sure a good deal of it is on this wiki somewhere, though I'm not sure where. This meta page shows 2012 Wikimania scholarships at 6 full + 3 part for £6,000, which sounds about right, but with Olympic year air fares I expect the actual cost was a bit more more - the air fares were around £550 each. I don't think anyone has used the Macrogrants process. We did award 4 scholarships for India, 3 from the UK (Tony Sant, WereSpielCheckers, Vinesh Patel) & 1 from India. The budget was £2,650 and the actuals about the same. These were in the 2010/11 financial year, before the office took over the accounting function at the start of the current FY this February. Johnbod (talk) 21:22, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
Come on John, behave like an adult. These pages have not been edited for many, many months; it's not a question of last week. Thank you for the informative part of your post. This page here [2] says, "Macrogrants are for grants over £250, typically up to £2,000, and have included activities such as Geovation". That sounds like there has been a macrogrant for Geovation. I understand you're busy right now, but this information should be updated before too long. Andreas JN 23:37, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
You just can't avoid the abuse, can you! I would point out that the first two links listed above are to the same page. These are Mike Peel pages and no doubt he will respond. Johnbod (talk) 02:56, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
I think that needs correction to express this as a possible future grant, I am sure Mike will do so when he has more time. As the GLAM budget holder, I am only aware of some travel expenses (economy train fares) in compliance with our Expenses Policy to take part in the event rather than a grant. In my records I have email correspondence on the 18th June approving expenses for GeoVation Camp but rejecting a request for per diem payments as I required this event to be receipted expenses only. A co-funding proposal has been received and is currently under review as per the minutes of our most recent public and open board meeting. The trustees planned to discuss it and make a decision this week, but we have been fully occupied dealing with unplanned responses to inquiries and allegations to deal with new proposals and so they have been deferred, along with many others, for an undefined period. -- (talk) 05:48, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. There needs to be clarity whether Geovation, for which Roger and Robin were reportedly awarded £17,500 in funds, is a Wikimedia UK project or not.
At present, there is conflicting information. I have found the following, and please let me know if there are any errors or omissions:
  • The bid said, "Wikimedia UK would be asked to run the scheme, employing Wikipedians, just as the National Library does in London... and the National Museum etc. Their help would be crucial. Welsh Wicipedians have also shown their enthusiasm and would filter out any unwanted vandalism."]
  • Trustee Doug Taylor on the other hand said on Jimbo's talk page, "I am unaware of any WMUK commitment to running the project" and "The Board are hopefully discussing the Geovation bid tonight as stated on the WMUK wiki, so we may be able to update the present position then. I understand that the bid will seek matched funding from one of the Welsh agencies and will include the employment (via an open advertisement) of a manager to run the project, so I think that it is a mistaken reading of the bid to conclude that WMUK will be running it."
  • The project is listed among Roger's Declarations of Interest: "Roger is part of a successful Geovation bid with Andy Mabbett, Robin Owain and John Cummings. This means that he is likely to be talking to many councils in Wales." As declarations of interest are by definition for interests external to WMUK that could generate conflicts of interest, this indicates the Geovation bid is not a Wikimedia UK project (even though its documentation on the Geovation site mentioned an envisaged Wikimedia UK involvement).
So I assume that the £17,500 went to Roger and Robin (and possibly the other names mentioned in his declaration of interest). Now I don't begrudge them the money. This is a good project. But if the money went to them personally, and Wikimedia UK has nothing to do with it, why then should Wikimedia UK have funded their travel expenses? And why should there even have been a request for per diem expenses, if Wikimedia UK was not going to be the recipient of the award money? And why were travel expenses approved if it was not even clear at the time whether this was going to be a Wikimedia UK project or not? The absence of any documentation naming the amount of travel expenses awarded and who the recipients were does not help here either. Andreas JN 13:33, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
There have been changes here - can we get Robain's report to the Board on September 8th up here, linked from the board meeting reports? From memory, the project will now be managed by a new Welsh non-profit company, who will get this and any future grants or WMUK money for this project. Originally we were going to manage it & now we won't. One reason is that a specifically Welsh body can help with getting grants. The project remains well within WMUK's mission, & I think the limited support given so far, plus some future support, is an appropriate use of funds. Johnbod (talk) 16:23, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
Are you saying it is an appropriate use of Wikimedia supporters' donations to pay travel expenses for a Wikimedia UK director (and/or other Wikipedians connected with the project) so that he can get a £17,500 grant for himself? Andreas JN 20:46, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
No. The proposal is for a co-funded project with several partners and delivered using open and transparent processes; the project has yet to start or be accepted by Wikimedia UK as we are at the proposal stage. The Mission of Wikimedia UK is to preserve open knowledge to share and use freely, and that is not limited to Wikipedia or other Wikimedia projects. The headline here is that for the cost of a few train fares and overnight accommodation from Wikimedia UK (in compliance with our Expenses Policy), Robin and his bid team were awarded £17,500 to spend directly to the benefit of open knowledge projects (as detailed in Robin's presented Venture plan), this includes creating content underpinned by Ordnance Survey open data, mobile use of Wikipedia and use of other open knowledge projects such as Europeana through better use of geotags.
The £17,500 prize money is strictly limited under the terms of the competition to the commitments of the Venture Plan, it cannot be spent on anything else. I have a copy of "Venture Plan Final Draft v3.0.doc" in my email and it matches details presented at the most recent Board meeting in Coventry. Our decision for the charity to cover economy train fares and accommodation for four people to go to the GeoVation Camp was based on this understanding of the project as presented by Robin. To avoid any misunderstanding, I have not uploaded that draft to this wiki, though I am sure Robin can make the final version publicly available, along with other documents that support the proposal, and I will ensure these are published on-wiki as part of our proposal review process.
So far none of the prize money of £17,500 has been drawn down, and for the purpose of meeting matched funding conditions from other prospective funding bodies, it will now probably be placed a Welsh company specifically set up for the purpose. We expect to receive a fuller proposal on this shortly, asking for a grant from Wikimedia UK as part of a range of funders. -- (talk) 06:47, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, Fæ.
  1. I take it the four individuals correspond to the four names mentioned here in relation to the bid?
    Yes. -- (talk) 10:31, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
  2. Trustee_Expenses_2012-2013 says it has not been updated since 24 May 2012, and the relevant items are not yet listed there.
    I have no idea if Roger actually claimed any money, that would have to be checked by the Office Manager. -- (talk) 10:31, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
  3. Having the draft venture plan available would be very useful, as this was the plan on the basis of which these WMUK expenses were allowed. Could you make it public?
    Yes, but not the draft. As mentioned above, I or another Board member shall make the Venture Plan public on this wiki when a final version is presented that supports Robin's proposal. Publishing an old draft that may not reflect the current proposal is likely to cause more confusion than clarification. -- (talk) 10:31, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
  4. Most importantly though, does the draft venture plan foresee the provision of paid consultancy or other services by any of these four individuals, in relation to QRpedia or any other elements of the venture? Andreas JN 09:59, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
    Yes. This is one of the matters that the trustees are currently reviewing with Robin, and asking for clarification on, before Wikimedia UK would consider providing any funding.
    As an addendum to my last comment, the terms of the prize can be seen in Section 11 of Geovation's prize rules here on the GeoVation blog. The Wikimedia UK Board is looking at whether it is possible or desirable for Wikimedia UK to receive the prize money directly. -- (talk) 10:31, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
    Thanks. Glad to hear it's being looked at. --Andreas JN 11:24, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
    Generally speaking, from an ordinary WMUK member's perspective, it always feels and looks problematic when trustees or other members who have a personal business interest in attending an event have their expenses paid by the charity. It doesn't feel right. They are attending – at least in part – to further their private careers and livelihoods. Cf. [3]. That's not what donors give us money for. It would never occur to me to hand in an expenses claim to WMUK if the trip I was undertaking were intended to end up benefiting my private business. If the job is a one-off, I might adjust my quote to reflect any significant outlay I have had, but that would then come out of the overall project fund, not the WMUK share of that fund. This applies all the more if it is a trustee. --Andreas JN 17:05, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Generally speaking, from this WMUK members perspective, providing a small grant to help get an exciting project, like Geovation, started seems like exactly the right thing to spend WMUK's money on. In this case it seems like a spectacular success in that a grant of a couple of hundred for travel expenses has pried loose a grant of £17,000 from other parties for this project. I hope WMUK will keep in touch with this project and be prepared to come up with more funds if that would help in the next stage. Well done Roger. Filceolaire (talk) 18:22, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
I don't think I have a problem with supporting the project, but I do have a problem with financially supporting individuals who are standing to make money from the project anyway. Just think about how it will look to donors and the general public. Andreas JN 20:41, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
You may find it reassuring to note that my first things I asked the bid team to confirm (on 15 June 2012) when we were asked to pay travel and accommodation expenses included:
  • There is no conflict of interest for the team members that has yet to be declared (noting that commercial value may be part of the benefits of any innovation and QRpedia is a likely part of the innovation)
  • There has been an open process for any other volunteers to take part and take advantage of this sponsorship
  • Any prize money will be committed to related (open knowledge) Wikimedia UK projects
Amongst the responses and documents, Robin sent me an email (18 June 2012) which confirmed in large type "Transparency must be fundamental to any Grant applications". I have no doubt that the documents to support the proposal will provide the transparency we require as part of the Wikimedia UK Values and Robin supports. As pointed out earlier, I will ensure the documents are made available publicly on-wiki well before Wikimedia UK makes a decision either way, as was always our intention. By the way, "Wikimedia UK projects" is odd phrasing of mine, this is not "Wikimedia projects" but projects that Wikimedia UK would recognize under our Activity Plan. I would expect a Welsh coastal path project like this could become one of our projects as it may involve some open knowledge projects that are not "Wikimedia", but it still fulfils our Mission and engages volunteers that can be supported by Wikimedia UK. -- (talk) 21:16, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Okay; but you did confirm above that the draft venture plan foresaw the individuals providing paid services for their own account (which would be an undeclared conflict of interest if they declared no conflicts of interest to you at the time), and that as of now the money is not going to WMUK, but to them (and that you are looking to perhaps change that). Correct? Andreas JN 01:15, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

Summary for GeoVation

The only declarations of interest we currently require to be made to the board or publicly are those of trustees. The Board has previously discussed creating requirements for declarations from members and volunteers, however this is well beyond straight-forward Charity Commission guidelines and we have reached no position to date, a matter you may wish to raise separately. This declaration was made, on 21 July 2012, by Roger while he was a trustee [4] "Roger is part of a successful Geovation bid with Andy Mabbett, Robin Owain and John Cummings." As the proposal has yet to be agreed, the possible future opportunity for Roger to be paid for contract work as part of this project was hypothetical but known to the board from the time of the first drafts from Robin and continues to be a serious question for the proposal to address before Wikimedia UK would consider co-funding, this alone may well be a reason for the proposal review team to recommend rejecting the project, particularly when judged against my question raised on 15 June as to whether "There has been an open process for any other volunteers to take part and take advantage of this sponsorship". To reiterate, we have made no commitment to fund the project.

The question of the flow of money is not straight forward due to requirements of co-funding bodies, this has been discussed and challenged previously in a Board meeting and a decision has yet to be made on how best to implement this in a way that satisfies the requirements of all co-funders. I reiterate, the money cannot be spent on anything other than to the benefit of open knowledge projects as presented to GeoVation. I suggest you take a closer look at the Geovation Terms, especially section 11.3 which acts as a very clear penalty clause.

In summary, as with any large proposal the devil is in the details, there are questions and these must be addressed before Wikimedia UK considers putting any funds into this future proposed project (which comes to us with £17,500 in the black) and I raised these some time ago. The project is an innovative and on-mission open knowledge project. Some details of implementation, especially openness for volunteers, need to be addressed before Wikimedia UK will consider becoming a co-funder but were I to fish for reasons to aggressively shoot it down in flames in public, based on draft documents several months old, just after the Coventry Board presentation and before the bid team has finalized their proposal to Wikimedia UK based on our feedback, this would seem to be creating confusion, carnage and bad faith just for the hell of it. Thanks -- (talk) 06:23, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

What budget did the team present along with their bid? Presumably they had to give some indication of how they were going to fund the remainder of the budget that isn't covered by the £17,500. Was the bid presented with an assumption that WMUK would be co-funding it? --Tango (talk) 11:14, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
1. Required or not, you said above that you did ask all participants about conflicts of interest. 2. If people went to the meeting in the expectation of getting paid contract work for themselves from this non-profit project, then WMUK should not have paid their expenses, even more so if as you now say openness for volunteers was in question. That's nothing against the project per se, just a somewhat worrying indication about how private business and charity roles seem to have become mixed and blurred. Please get the pages on this wiki that are supposed to document the various travel grants, microgrants and macrogrants updated so we can see who has received what and why. --Andreas JN 13:39, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
AK 1. Yes, I think I have answered the question very clearly more than once. The issue, in particular any potential payments to Roger Bamkin as a contractor, consultant, team member or in any other capacity, paid or unpaid, over the life of the project, is one for the Robin's proposal and the review team to make a assessment of and determine if the plan forward is acceptable or not, keeping in mind our Trustee Code of Practice.
AK 2. Yes, I hear you and understand the point you have made in several different ways in several different forums. I have received an email from Robin today, pointing out that he previously offered to the Wikimedia UK office to cover these expenses from the prize money, I have no idea why I was not made aware of this offer (it is possible I overlooked it in an email I was copied on, it would be handy if the original email were copied to me). I would have no ethical reservations in taking him up on that offer and when I am back home, I will reply to Robin suggesting he discuss how to do this with the Office Manager and make it happen.
TD I did see a cash flow forecast which, as I recall (but I have not double checked and do not have sufficient time to do so this week), made no assumption that Wikimedia UK would bung cash at the project. As mentioned above, I expect John Byrne and Robin will talk about the documents supporting the proposal this week and publish them on-wiki as soon as possible considering the sudden unexpected interest that has developed in looking at the detail.
If any Wikimedia UK member wishes to join the proposal review team (Andreas? Tango?) you are welcome to offer your time to help out. I certainly need more people on the GLAM network to deliver our projects, including this one, though please note that anyone taking part in the proposal review will be unable to be paid as a later consultant or employee for this interesting project, this naturally includes me. Thanks -- (talk) 14:17, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
Thank you for answering our questions. I'm still confused, though. I don't understand how they could get a £17.5k grant without having secured funding the whole project, and if they've secured funding for the whole project, why are they asking WMUK to co-fund it? --Tango (talk) 19:47, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
There will be more forthcoming on this, but I don't see why it is difficult to believe that "they could get a £17.5k grant without having secured funding the whole project", which is the case, not your 2nd option. Remember the £17.5K is not paid yet; whether getting other funding is a condition of releasing it I don't know or can't remember off the top of my head. Johnbod (talk) 10:32, 25 September 2012 (UTC)
Hi Tango, just to clear up some of the confusion. Geovation is a "beauty contest" for IT projects that support (in this case) the Wales Coast Path. Four of us entered this contest in order to win/get/be awarded 40K. The budget that we presented was for 40K and that was (we thought) barely sufficient to launch a project. When the prizes were awarded we were awarded 17.5 K with the idea that we re-thought the budget. However others thought the project so interesting that Robin is trying to work it up to a higher figure with mostly external funding. At our recent board meeting in Coventry Robin presented the proposal without any involvement specified for me. This is government and institution money that is being created for a project. This is extra work that may be managed by WMUK. Some have suggested that this money is sitting in peoples bank accounts. This is not money that "we won" for ourselves but money that was awarded to a yet to be redefined project called "Living Paths". It appears that every time we declare a COI then it is assumed that this means we are profitting. The whole purpose of declaring a COI is to enable the board to emnsure that this does not happen. I have realised that this has become too tricky an overhead for the board and as you know I have resigned. Victuallers (talk) 21:26, 25 September 2012 (UTC)

Status of the grants pages

Hi all. Replying to the original question here - I'm sorry that the grant pages aren't up to date, that's been on my to-do list for far too long. The process has been designed to be as transparent as possible, although it's not quite managing that in every case - I'll see how we can improve this in the future. There is plenty of info about the microgrants at least, though - there's a few that sadly aren't public for one (boring) reason or another, most are there and are rather comprehensive. The scholarships pages do need more work, mostly just to pull the info together in one place (the advertisements, announcements and reports are currently all available but aren't clearly linked). I'm hoping that we can get full grants committee set up sometime in the near future, rather than this relying on me - if you'd be interested in being on that committee, please let me know. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 21:07, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

QR codes

After several months of delays we now know that the chapter is not being given QRpedia.org but only qrwp.org. I've been keeping a quarter of an eye on this for some time, but got quite complacent when I saw that board minutes or agendas had been talking about the transfer of QRpedia.

Now that we know that we have one but not the other I've got some concerns.

  1. Currently qrwp.org simply redirects to QRpedia.org, but presumably we could redirect it if in future we chose to part company with QRpedia, or if they parted company with us. Is that the case and if so is the chapter now going to take steps to replace our current use of QRpedia.org?
  2. Are any of the QR code plaques linked directly to QRpedia.org or do they all go indirectly via qrwp.org?
  3. It doesn't seem appropriate for us to be promoting QRpedia as a brand if it isn't ours, it doesn't belong to another compatible charity and while it doesn't currently show an ad to people using it, it could in the future. Can I suggest that the UK chapter stop using the name QRpedia, pick a new name for its QR codes project and announce that to the movement.

On a side note. My thanks to Roger and everyone else involved for developing this wonderful system, for giving us qrwp.org and for releasing the code under an open license. I haven't been a party to the discussions that have brought us to the current sitaution, and I don't want to sound like I'm looking a gift horse in the mouth. But now we know what's ours and what isn't, there are some practical steps that need taking. WereSpielChequers (talk) 17:27, 23 September 2012 (UTC)

That's disappointing, especially after the recent assurance from Jon on the wikimediauk-l mailing list that transferring both domain names was just a formality. [5] What happened? --Andreas JN 17:48, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Well according to the chapter blog of two days ago they've agreed to give qrwp.org to the Chapter. So unless I've misinterpreted that blog post we are being given less than perhaps some were expecting. WereSpielChequers (talk) 18:01, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Andreas, could you provide a link where Jon makes the statement you claim? I cannot see it on the email you linked to. Thanks -- (talk) 18:04, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
I'm sorry; I grabbed the wrong URL. The right one is this (the one I posted was for the post immediately preceding it). What Jon said was, "We have been working on an agreement solidly for the last two months. Should be agreed VERY shortly. No cock ups OR conspiracies just very complicated law. Jon." Apologies again for the mix-up. --Andreas JN 20:02, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the correction. The email from Jon makes no statement or assurance about "transferring both domain names". As you have pointed out, he does say "just very complicated law", which was probably not intended to give the impression that it was only formality as "very complicated law" is rarely that simple. As all the people involved are busy dealing with other urgent and important events, you might expect this to cause a delay in finalizing our QRpedia agreement. I am not currently involved in the negotiation with Terence and Roger, so I will leave it to those who are to consider how to reply, appropriately, to WSC's questions. -- (talk) 20:20, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Is the negotiation complex? I've donated domains to organisations before, it is a fairly simple process involving... me transferring the domain. Trademarks (and if any exist that seems silly) can be signed over with simplicity. If they want to donate it they can, if they don't (and I wouldn't blame them after the last week) then fine. But as the project is open source it should be fairly easy for WMUK to set it up under a different "brand". Wherein lies the "negotiation"? Makes me cautious. --ErrantX (talk) 21:25, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Yes it is complicated. Spelling out the precise details of the negotiation would hardly be a sensible thing to go public with, until the negotiation is complete. Thanks -- (talk) 21:41, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Sounds a little like a waste of volunteer time then. Not to mention oddly secretive. Better just to set up the code ourselves. --ErrantX (talk) 22:04, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
As an unpaid volunteer, I agree that this negotiation which started last summer, has wasted a huge amount of my time. As for secretive, could you explain how to successfully run a complicated negotiation in the glare of the public eye? The code is open source, this means that anyone can set up a similar service, this was never an issue. As mentioned, I cannot answer WSC's questions, so I will step away from this thread and therefore save a bit of my valuable volunteer time. Cheers -- (talk) 22:11, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
It does make sense for complicated negotiations to happen in private, but I think the reason the secrecy seems odd is that it seems very odd for this to be a complicated negotiation. The impression we've been given is that the plan is just for Roger to donate the IP and domain names to WMUK. There is nothing complicated there. You only need to negotiate if Roger is expecting something in return, which would completely change the whole situation and would raise a lot more questions. --Tango (talk) 11:18, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
Yes, sorry. Tom has nailed what I was aiming for; it seems odd that something like this would be complex, as there seems little to negotiate. My presumption has been that there is some stipulation involved which would allow the current owners to continue e.g. marketing the QRpedia plaques and so on. But a year seems a looooong time even for that. --ErrantX (talk) 13:15, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
The question WereSpielChequers asked, and which occasioned Jon's reply, was specifically about QRpedia.org, not qrwp.org. (That's why I included the previous post's URL.) QRpedia.org is the domain you're not getting. Andreas JN 01:20, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
This was my question that Jon was responding to:
I don't have a problem with the UK chapter giving a few "how to edit leaflets" out to someone who is encouraging people how to edit.
But I would appreciate a little clarification re QRpedia. Can someone tell me who owns the http://qrpedia.org domain name? If I'm correct in my understanding of QR codes then all the QR codes that we are encouraging people to use point to that domain and are currently repointed to Wikipedia articles. So if we are going to promote QRpedia we need to know that the domain is part of the movement.
So yes I specifically named QRpedia.org. But I did so on my then presumption that this was the domain that the various QR plaques were directly pointing to. Things have moved on since, and I've learned that the domain that most and hopefully all of the plaques directly link to is apparently qrwp.org. There are other implications in our not being given QRpedia.org, but my question was clearly about the domain that the QR codes we are encouraging people to use link to and which at the time I thought was QRpedia.org. If the plaques are indirectly linking to qrpedia.org via a direct link to qrwp.org then Jon's reply was specifically about the domain I was actually asking about in that question. WereSpielChequers (talk) 08:52, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
I suggest you email Jon directly, link to this discussion, and ask for a written clarification of what he meant. The impression you appear to have been given does not match my understanding of the negotiation though things may have moved on since Chris became Chair and he and Jon took responsibility and authority for successfully completing the agreement. Thanks -- (talk) 09:11, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
Chris Keating, the WMUK chair, said on Sept. 17th in a reply to me, an hour and a half after Jon's post, "To further clarify - we are not really talking about intellectual property rights. We are talking about the domains [Note the plural – A.] currently used to provide the qrpedia service, which are qrpedia.org and qrwp.org." [6] He also said, "4. QRpedia. QRpedia.org is owned by Roger Bamkin and Terence Eden, who have been maintaining it, along with qrwp.org (where the "qrpedia" links resolve), as volunteers. An agreement between Roger and Terence on the one hand and Wikimedia UK on the other is in the works, shouldn't take more than a few weeks to finish off, and will provide a firm basis for the growing use of Wikipedia-linked QR codes in future." [7] So according to what Chris said last week, the links go to qrpedia.org (not owned by WMUK) but resolve to qrwp.org (the domain that will be transferred to WMUK ownership, according to the above). Andreas JN 10:59, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
Note two helpful comments by Tom Morris at the WP village pump: [8] "The QR codes point to qrwp.org. So, if you generate a QR code for the enwiki article for London points to the URL http://en.qrwp.org/London which will then redirect to the Mobile version of Wikipedia for the most appropriate language." [9] "qrpedia.org is simply the website you go to that generates the QR codes. You paste in a Wikipedia URL and it generates the appropriate qrwp.org QR code. You don't have to use qrpedia.org to generate QRpedia codes: you can use any QR code generator. But if WMUK are to have control over QRpedia (which they, or another chapter, or the Foundation, probably should), it kind of makes sense to have both." --Andreas JN 13:26, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
Hi Andreas, I'm not sure what "resolve" means in this contest or whether we are all using that word in the same way. But what is clear to me now is that qrwp.org is the code in the current physical plaques, and hopefully all plaques that we've erected and therefore is the QR domain that we need to worry about long term. If we need to we can migrate from QRpedia to something else without replacing all the plaques that have been erected. If QRwp.org has been given to WMUK then I'm happy that we continue to promote QR codes, including using QRpedia.org in the short term as long as it continues to be freely available without advertising. WereSpielChequers (talk) 23:41, 25 September 2012 (UTC)

December 2012 update

So now the QR code plaques have to be monitored and maintained, to keep them free of stickers. --Lexein (talk) 02:54, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

As with any public sign, it's a problem. This is not a "discovery" by The Register; back in Spring 2012 and a couple of times since, I have been involved in discussions where this was assessed. In the case of Monmouth, maintenance of the plaques is specifically part of the trademark agreement with the WMF, though I believe this is effectively rolled up in their maintenance planning for all tourist information/highway signs (any of which might be damaged or vandalized throughout the year and there is a gradual programme of checking and repair). The deliberate misdirection of QRcodes by over-stickers has been around as vandalism for quite a while, though one might expect that this is a vanishingly small problem for heritage trails around Wales but could be a significant problem were we, say, to have a project around a central London location involving public signage. Certainly something that should be considered at the project planning stage so that long term maintenance issues are appropriately assessed and owned after the project is complete.
As a problem it is almost completely by-passed by using embossed plaques, even the plastic ones. Not only does this make vandalism fairly ineffective, stickers are unlikely to stick around very long and they tend to weather far better in remote locations if one is thinking in terms of them being in place for a decade. -- (talk) 04:11, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Glad to hear it. There's also the notion of making the QR codes arbitrarily large, to make printing of labels impractical. Build 'em right into the monuments, full scale. ;) --Lexein (talk) 11:25, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
I like the sound of that. Perhaps we can get a QRPedia code painted on the top of a large building roof in London so that it can only be seen from space—then the public can have fun working out how to scan it on their phone when looking at it on Google Maps. :-D -- (talk) 11:39, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
So what's policy about images containing QR codes? Are they free? Or non-free because they contain a copyrighted QR code? Uh oh. --Lexein (talk) 02:43, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
What makes you think QR Codes are copyrighted? They are governed by ISO 18004:2006 and are free to use. A patent applies for the technology, and "QR Code" is a trademark, but for each uniquely generated QR Code there is no copyright issue.
This reminds me of a photo I have of a QR Code in a V&A exhibition, it was hand knitted in wool with (I think) coloured beads highlighting the code. The bizarre part was that you were supposed to use your phone to scan the code, but at the same time the V&A had a sign saying no photography allowed! Even in the case of a QR Code becoming a work of art, the literal QR Code itself (if you can abstract it from the artwork) would not be copyrighted even if the work itself was. Hm, if someone can explain that better they are welcome—the upshot being that I cannot upload my photo to Commons but I could re-generate the QR Code and upload that. -- (talk) 13:23, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

Has the relevant domain now been transferred to WMUK? TheOverflow (talk) 08:47, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

I stepped away from negotiations after I made my final recommendation to the board to complete a reasonable agreement, with no cost to the charity, in July. The information I have access to, as an uninvolved trustee, is that it has not. -- (talk) 09:52, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
The board were kind enough to allow me to join an in camera discussion on that subject at the November board meeting. Obviously, I can't go into much detail since it was in camera, but I can confirm that good progress is being made towards getting the domain transferred. No-one seemed to have a good explanation for why it had taken so long to get to this point, though... --Tango (talk) 12:18, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
Interesting, I was at the same meeting. The in-camera minutes contain a reference to a QRPedia action on Jon dating to 17 Oct 2012, but no more (they are draft minutes). No specific progress since then has been reported to me as a trustee, though there may well be operational meetings that have not communicated back to the trustees. The Executive Working Group meets tomorrow, and you can see it will be covered by looking at Agenda 18Dec12, so perhaps there will be some progress that can be reported publicly. Thanks -- (talk) 16:08, 17 December 2012 (UTC)
Progress has been agonisingly slow. I may regret saying this but we really are making progress behind the scenes that we hope will lead to some sort of resolution in the early new year. I can see though why they lock the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel for their conclave until they elect a new pope. Could we try this system if nothing else works? I'll supply the white smoke if that helped.Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 10:14, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

Voting methods

I recall that at WikiConference UK 2012 we discussed the issue of the voting method used for electing the board. I think there was general agreement that we should go away and think about it and discuss it on-wiki.

I haven't noticed anything on here... but let me know if I have missed it.

For what it is worth, I think that Homunq has done most of the hard work for us, with an essay on WP voting systems. Homunq has identified a system that most Wikimedians will feel familiar with and yet is very rigorous. We could possibly tweek it slightly for our purposes... but I think Homunq is still working on it so for now I will just note that the essay is there.

Yaris678 (talk) 17:57, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

The proposed voting system there is for choosing a single option. We elect multiple board members at a time, so it wouldn't be suitable for us. There is a first draft of a proposal here and was some discussion last week on the UK mailing list starting here. --Tango (talk) 19:55, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
And, cutting to the chase, a proposal at User:LondonStatto/Proposed STV Election Rules (oops, as Tom lked to above), which I am so far the only person to comment on. More comments welcome - better here than on the list now - & thanks for the reminder link to Homuq's stuff. This has been rather sidetracked by recent events, and we need 28 days notice of the meeting once the resolution is sorted out, so realistically the necessary EGM will not be before November. Johnbod (talk) 10:39, 25 September 2012 (UTC)

Collaboration or Independence

WMUK has, since it was established, worked to develop collaboration or even partnership with other organisations, even public relations people. These collaborations have mostly consisted of training in Wikipedia editting, including providing guidance on our COI policy.

Andreas, in his contribution above, has emphasised the importance of wikipedia staying independent. He claims (as I understand it) that such collaborations could be perceived as compromising our independence and neutrality and should be avoided. (I hope I have accurately represented your views Andreas).

These 2 views are diametrically opposed. If we believe one then we must reject the other. Personally I believe providing training to all sorts of organisations is a good thing and it provides an opportunity to explain our COI policy to these organisations which should help reduce COI editting and help us maintain the neutral POV of Wikipedia. Filceolaire (talk) 03:47, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

I agree with Filceolaire. I remember being quite surprised at WMUK's approach to this sort of stuff... but now I am familiar with it, it makes sense.
I think it helps to understand what the term "conflict of interest" means. It doesn't mean "there is money involved", although perhaps it is understandable when that raises suspicions. It doesn't mean "being interested in something other than the encyclopedia (or other project)". The whole meaning of NPOV is that people with different perspectives can agree on something. "Conflict of interest" is about when your interests clash with those of the encyclopedia. Often they are aligned, but when they are not you should put the encyclopedia first.
Businesses are often looked at with suspicion. Their interest in promoting themselves conflicts with the interest of the encyclopedia. However there are some areas where they are aligned. Neither side wants misinformation about the company to be on the encyclopedia.
As far as I can see, the issue with Roger was that he is accused of gaming the system for DYK. While there may be a perfectly innocent explanation I can see why it looks dodgy. I think we should carry on collaborating but make sure that people are very careful to avoid the appearance of anything like gaming the system.
Yaris678 (talk) 08:26, 27 September 2012 (UTC)
There has been a great deal of confusion and miscommunication as to what we (Wikimedia UK) mean by "Independence", "Declarations of Interests" and "Conflict of Interests". The terms are not interchangeable and our definition of CoI is not the one from the English Wikipedia, though more work, in my opinion, needs to be done in reviewing and consulting on the differences. For example to interpret "independence", the Wikimedia UK charity is required to consider and assess against the Charity Commission's guidelines, including advice from interesting guidelines such as RR7 which explains how we ought to be free to stay independent of the state, which in our case may also be read as retaining an appropriate level of independent governance from other bodies.
As has been mentioned previously, the Board is discussing our plan of action, which includes an independent governance review to deliver public recommendations for improvement. One area that will be addressed will be how better to communicate and consult on our DoI process and the interpretation of CoI, particularly in comparison to the Wikipedia definition of CoI which remains a continuing source of contention. I cannot commit to a date when the Board can go public with agreed top level actions, but from what I have been involved with, I would expect us to realistically be able to do so in a week. As per our obligations and good practice for a charity, the board has sought independent advice, including legal advice, and this is bound to take time. I do not believe I am saying anything surprising or compromising any in-camera discussions, so I have not reviewed my words here with the board before making them; should any trustee like me to make corrections, I would be only too happy to do so.
By the way, as a (sometimes controversial) contributor to the Wikimedia projects with quite a few edits under my belt, at this point the highest number across projects for any trustee, I would find it a very odd position for Wikimedia UK to have a Board of trustees who might have to desist from contributing to the Wikimedia projects whilst they are a trustee for fear of creating reputational risk for the charity. Hopefully positive, proactively managed and detailed guidelines will avoid us having to appoint a board where the majority must have weak or no experience as Wikimedians. Thanks -- (talk) 09:20, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

I think the person most stressing independence was Lexein, rather than myself, Filceolaire. My concern has been primarily about mixed roles – i.e. being a trustee of Wikimedia UK, while also being a paid consultant contributing to a project that is funded by a third party, but endorsed by Wikimedia UK. No one should have to explain the appearance of impropriery in this to anyone: it is really, really obvious.

Where I agree with Lexein and others is that it makes a huge difference whether Wikimedia UK partners with an educational organisation or a tourist board that clearly states in its own publicity that it views the project as a cost-effective marketing exercise designed to boost tourism. The latter type of cooperation is simply untenable, especially if money changes hands and Wikimedia UK officials or members are the recipients. It will damage Wikimedia's reputation just as quickly and obviously as Bell Pottinger's. Andreas JN 13:42, 28 September 2012 (UTC)

The devil is in the details. I would be open to discussing a partnership with any ethical organization that supports our mission. However my understanding of ethical or how another party believes they support our mission, needs balanced and conservative interpretation for the best interests of the UK charity. Plenty of organizations come with their own reputational and political past that may need careful consideration and possibly appropriate limitations to the scope of a relationship (the British Museum is a good example of that, I vaguely recall an email complaining about our partnership with them due to some of their artefacts that have not been repatriated...). However I don't really want to dig into this steaming pile right now. We are going to commission an independent governance review in the very near future, and how we go about testing for tricky devils in partnering details must be part of that review. I look forward to solid independent public recommendations and putting in place an improvement plan along with firm preventative and corrective action, that can restore our credibility in this area.
Oh, a minor correction, I do not believe that Wikimedia UK has entered into any agreement with a tourist board. I may be mistaken, if so please link to some evidence as it may come in handy for the coming review. Thanks -- (talk) 15:25, 28 September 2012 (UTC)
One thing I have noticed though is that all our training days are during office hours i.e. they are for the organisation staff (who are to some extent oriented to the organisation), not for their members (who are more oriented to the objectives). Filceolaire (talk) 08:23, 29 September 2012 (UTC)

Hotcat and other tools

Hi, Hotcat is available in everyone's preferences now on :wmuk, but I'm getting a bit frustrated with changing categories on many pages (I would like to move over 100 pages in one category, and I can't think of an easy way apart from writing a bit of Python to do it - seems a bit daft). Could someone investigate if we could have something like cat-a-lot or similar to use on this wiki so that everyone can help with keeping it well organized? Cheers -- (talk) 13:15, 28 September 2012 (UTC)


What is the status of Chepstowpedia? (For those unfamiliar with it, there is some info on it here.) Are there any other projects like it in the pipeline? --Andreas JN 13:44, 28 September 2012 (UTC)

I suspect this was just raised on Wikipediocracy, thanks for coming here first as you may find this is a better place to get real facts rather than speculation on Jimbo's talk page.
No, though there is visionary talk, I don't know of an identifiable pipeline of these projects and as I am the GLAM budget holder, which seems the only appropriate budget, that would seem definitive. The only <town/city>pedia projects discussed are as per the Board meeting minutes. As for Chepstowpedia, checking the board meeting minutes, there was a decision to accept this proposal, see Minutes_26Jul12#Chepstowpedia, and put aside £14,000 in the budget. I had forgotten it, because as far as I know, this has not made progress against the conditions given in the minutes, for example I have yet to see a draft proposed MOU and the QRPedia agreement is still under discussion. In fact it was myself that recommended that the QRPedia agreement being in place was a pre-condition of funding this proposal (I recall raising this during an Executive Committee telecon, when I used to have those).
You will note in the proposal that it clearly includes a paid Wikimedian in Residence to be recruited and the post was to be openly advertised in the community.
Without any recent update on this proposal, I suspect it to have stalled as I am unaware of any volunteer or staff pushing for it as a priority at the current time. If no significant progress is reported by the next Board meeting in November (are you presenting Andreas?) I would aim to ask for the budget to be released and allocated against other activities. Thanks -- (talk) 15:01, 28 September 2012 (UTC)
I was at a local meeting last week where this was discussed with Monmouthshire CC officers. I understand it is still likely to go forward, in some form. Ghmyrtle (talk) 10:18, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

Pending an evaluation of MonmouthpediA all Wikitown projects accross the Globe are on hold.Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 10:30, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

Webcasted board meetings

Over at w:en:User:Victuallers I read that the UK board meetings are webcasted. When did this start? Where is this document? Are the streams available for download? John Vandenberg (talk) 07:53, 29 September 2012 (UTC)

See Commons:Category:Wikimedia_UK_board_meetings. Has the Australian chapter published webcasts of your open board meetings? Thanks -- (talk) 08:01, 29 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the pointer. It looks like April is the first webcasted board meeting (commons:Category:Wikimedia UK board meeting of 21-22 April 2012) however I dont see streams for the subsequent board meetings. Were those meetings webcasted? Thanks, John Vandenberg (talk) 08:12, 29 September 2012 (UTC)
No experience of doing this in the Australian chapter? I would have expected that video engagement would make a lot of sense considering thousands of miles separate your board members.
I know that Richard took video recordings of the Coventry meeting and I believe all in-person board meetings have been recorded. He has probably been overwhelmed with administration to process the files and upload them (I think it was me that uploaded and processed videos in 2011, so April 2012 was not the first). If a volunteer with A/V experience would like to offer to take the files and process them on Richard's advice (they may need to be edited to remove any in-camera discussion), please do contact Richard.
In general, we need a small team of A/V volunteers to help with recordings from all events, which in turn encourages better virtual engagement and innovation. This has been raised before, but seems to have run into the sand, so come on leading volunteers, someone have a go at taking this on. I would be very keen to see such a team established and running well in advance of next year's AGM and the GLAMwiki conference. Cheers -- (talk) 08:31, 29 September 2012 (UTC)
Fae, I asked simple questions here about WMUK and you're answers are far from helpful, and you're aggressively asking questions about WMAU in your responses. Nobody who has been on the WMAU board is publicly saying that the WMAU board meetings have been "en:webcasted". WMAU doesnt have open board meetings to publish, so your first question is a loaded question. You're responses here has been lots of loaded language meant to suggest that WMUK is great because it has open meetings and WMAU isnt good because it doesn't have open meetings. It's comical that you think now is a good time for a WMUK trustee to be publicly offering suggestions to other chapters on how to run their board. A movement wide discussion about the utility of open board meetings and webcasted board meetings would be great, but this isn't the time or place. A discussion about what is wrong with WMAU would also be good, but WMAU's problems arn't in the international media so perhaps you can appreciate that now isnt the time or place for that either.
WMUK does have a recently resigned member of its board asserting, in a public statement regarding a controversy involving Wikimedia UK, that the Wikimedia UK board meetings have been webcasted, and the implication is that this has happened regularly and that this webcasting means that the public have had access to the relevant board discussions. ("[WMUK] web cast their board meetings.") If this has happened, you should have been able to provide a clear and simple answer: "yes, all board meetings regarding this project have been webcasted, and [here] is the evidence". If not, I should not need to be here asking questions because it is your duty as a trustee to set the record straight promptly.
After your first response I found that video of the April board meeting was published, and now after your second response I have found that the November 2011 meeting was also published. Are they the only two that have been published? Can someone please confirm in simple language that the relevant board meetings have been webcasted and/or published? John Vandenberg (talk) 02:48, 30 September 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, I thought that spending my time precisely providing the information you needed was answering your question. As I seem to only be annoying you, I will leave it to others to follow-up, should they wish to. I have quite specific duties as a trustee and answering scatter-gun questions on this Water Cooler is not actually my personal duty, certainly not one that the Charity Commission would recognize or expect. Thanks for your thoughts on the matter. -- (talk) 07:35, 30 September 2012 (UTC)
John, when you quote these videos or use them as evidence when you repost details elsewhere, could you make it clear that the UK Chapter remains the first and only chapter to be committed enough to transparency and openness in accordance with our Values that we have all our board meetings as open meetings and have gone to great lengths and effort to record and publish the meetings on video for the benefit of our members and the public. I have no doubt you can find two seconds in the video where I use colourful language or one of our trustees says something mistakenly because they have not double checked our records. I would hope that if used this way, that this does not discourage either the UK Chapter, other Chapters or the Wikimedia Foundation to consider having open board meetings or recording them for the public benefit in this way in the future. Thanks -- (talk) 11:09, 29 September 2012 (UTC)
Cripes Fae, you really need to stop making assumptions about what other people are going to do. I had no intention to use the content in the videos. My current objective is to check the accuracy of a ex-UK board members statement. If it was true, it was very cool and is very helpful to counter some of the concerns in the current controversy; if it was false/misleading, it was very problematic in the current controversy.
For the record, I applaud WMUK for any open board meetings it has held (I havent any idea if this is true, but I also dont doubt it is true), and for recording and publishing board meetings, of which I have seen evidence of two. Are you 100% confident that WMUK is the first and only chapter to have done this? John Vandenberg (talk) 03:05, 30 September 2012 (UTC)
Yes, as stated, I believe one other chapter once tried webcasting, but no chapter has recorded consistently in the way the UK has led the field in transparency. Thank you for applauding Wikimedia UK's work in this regard. Should you have any other ideas for assessing the operations of Wikimedia UK, I hope you can take a moment to discuss these with Jon Davies who can doubtless easily check the facts and put the results publicly in writing if clarifications are necessary, before spending your valuable time running your own personal private investigation into one of our past trustees. Jon is fond of saying that his door is always open and you can put that to the test by emailing him questions at jon.daviesatwikimedia.org.uk. As a matter of efficiency, we do not expect staff to spend a lot of time surfing noticeboards so email is a better bet to get his attention. I am sure as the Australian Chapter President there are many important and urgent things on your plate; I certainly find myself rather popular these days when experienced and trusted hands are needed on urgent matters.
By the way, Roger Bamkin has a long history of telling the truth, you seen unaware of that fact by assuming otherwise ("If it was true"). Allegations recently made about him that I have recently read in the press and by direct email, include corruption, malfeasance, bribery and unlawful activities. Should evidence for any of these allegations ever be presented to the UK Chapter (none has to date) then an independent investigation will address them, publicly. In the absence of evidence being presented, for some time we have planned an independent investigation by credible independent investigators into the Wikimedia UK governance processes that will pay specific and detailed attention to Roger Bamkin's declared interests and how it was managed along with how Wikimedia UK appropriately manages partnerships and other relationships with all second and third parties in line with Charity Commission guidelines and in fulfilment of our Mission. I referred to this previously on this noticeboard. This will be independent of anyone on the UK Board, the UK Chapter or the Wikimedia Foundation and will report publicly. Thanks -- (talk) 07:28, 30 September 2012 (UTC)

Since general questions are not working, I'll try a very specific one. Where is the webcast of the 30 June 2012 board meeting? John Vandenberg (talk) 09:08, 30 September 2012 (UTC)

Only a few board meetings have been webcast live, although more have been video recorded. The ones that are available online are 19-20 November 2011 (first webcast meeting) and 21-22 April 2012. I believe that the recordings for 30 June are on one of the computers in the office (probably Stevie's) - I don't think that the office has had time to edit and upload them yet. As I understand it, the reasons why we've been recording rather than webcasting are a) the office has a video camera but not a high-quality web camera, and b) the internet connections in board meetings haven't been particularly reliable of late (e.g. I tend to resort to my 3G connection to be able to reliably access the etherpad minutes). Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 09:21, 30 September 2012 (UTC)
Thank you Mike for a nice clear and informative answer. By 'webcast', do you/Roger/WMUK mean uploaded to Wikimedia Commons and therefore available on demand? Or were there board meetings that were streamed live using a different technology stack? If it is a live webcast, is the address advertised to members only or to the public (such as this wiki or the wikimediauk-l list).
If WMUK has only made videos of two board meetings available, and both were before Gibraltarpedia, then the WMUK's intentions to publish videos of all UK board meetings are laudable but quite irrelevant as this would mean that the public statement by Roger is misleading, as a reasonable man will read it to mean that Wikimedia UK has systematically maked available videos of their board meetings, and that they can find videos of the board meetings about events that are currently attracting attention. You guys are his colleagues and friends appear to maintain good relations with him, and it is in everyones interest that his statement is accurate and the evidence to support it is easy to find.
p.s. While I am addressing this to you Mike, I dont mean to suggest that you are required to answer; anyone can do it ("its a wiki"), and I appreciate that good answers often arn't available immediately, especially if a board needs to review the answer, and even worse if they need to approve the answer. I leave it in your capable hands. John Vandenberg (talk) 11:27, 30 September 2012 (UTC) (small addition: John Vandenberg (talk) 13:54, 30 September 2012 (UTC))
A minor correction, "You guys are his colleagues and friends" is potentially misleading. I have had no personal contact or discussion with Roger for several months, this would not be normal for my personal friendships, in fact I have exchanged private emails with Andreas Kolbe more often than Roger over the last six months, so perhaps I would need to declare that as a friendship. Being collegiate with trustees on the board is not the same as having personal friendships that might be later claimed to lead to a potential conflict of loyalties with the Charity. Thanks -- (talk) 11:34, 30 September 2012 (UTC)
Thank you Fae for being so concerned about the wording of my post here. In my experience it is quite normal to develop a friendly relationship with a fellow board member without that meaning there is a conflict of loyalties. Anyway, I have struck "are his colleagues and friends" and replaced it with "appear to maintain good relations with him". All I was saying is that Wikimedia UK should be best placed to deal with this quickly and effectively. As the answers to my original questions arn't as simple as I had hoped, I have notified Roger on en.wp to this conversation as it regards statements he has made there. John Vandenberg (talk) 05:00, 1 October 2012 (UTC)
Thank you John, it was only a few days ago that I would have had the same world view, sadly no longer. Had you been getting the legal advice and professional advice on these issues that the UK Board had this week, including on the importance of judging "friendships" against potential for conflict of loyalties and when "friendships" should be declared as conflicts of interests, you would also be appearing to act in a paranoid fashion by now. I sincerely hope the Australian Chapter is never in a similar position of having to consider the threats and unsupported allegations we have had this past week. Thanks -- (talk) 05:12, 1 October 2012 (UTC)

As it is approaching 48 hours and has turned from a simple question into the real possibility of Roger's statement being misleading, I did some more research myself. I have found that the November 2011 and April 2012 board meetings were live webcasts and wikimediauk-l was informed. Very cool.

However I have not found any webcasts, live or otherwise, for any other board meetings, including all board meetings related to Gibraltarpedia which occurred after April.[10]. This is not a problem in itself, however if true then Roger's statement is misleading, which is not so cool.

For anyone interested in the details, parts of the November 2011 meeting were live at http://bambuser.com/v/2140298 and that feed was advertised on the wikimediauk-l list.[11][12] More at http://bambuser.com/channel/pigsonthewing . The April 2012 meeting appears to have also been webcasted at http://monmouthpedia.wordpress.com/webcast/ , and again this was advertised on the wikimediauk-l list.[13] More at http://bambuser.com/channel/dsoundzmedia?channel-search=wikimedia .

John Vandenberg (talk) 05:00, 1 October 2012 (UTC)

Hi John! We webcasted our first few meetings this year, but the quality wasn't amazing, so we moved to filming them on an HD camcorder, then subsequently uploading them to Commons. We didn't film the Coventry meeting, because it was very 'get up and walk around', and not everyone wanted to be filmed. The 30 June one was filmed, I believe, but Stevie is on holiday at the moment so it's not been uploaded. There can be slips of the tongue that need editing out, which is a lot of work for 6+ hours of video - hence the delay. That said, any detailed discussion about the Gibraltarpedia conflict of interest would probably be in-camera, so I'm not sure you'd find what you want even if it was filmed. If you have any questions and you feel you're not getting answers, feel free to drop me or Jon an email and we'll do everything we can to help. Richard Symonds (WMUK) (talk) 09:08, 1 October 2012 (UTC)

A carefully edited video that removes anything off-message doesn't do a lot to improve transparency... --Tango (talk) 11:29, 1 October 2012 (UTC)
I am quite happy to be on video saying bollocks or worse. Everyone knows I can swear like a trouper and I honestly try terribly hard not to do that during board meetings, I apologise for any offence caused to those sensitive to such material due to my passion for the subject and my working class childhood. Be reassured, I have never called anyone pleb, so there is one scandal we might avoid. I am not too unhappy about being on video saying something off-message, so long as I am allowed to change my viewpoint over time; this is not intentional hypocrisy, it is learning. I admit to being often wrong, I may argue the case strongly, at times didacticly, but if someone presents the facts, I have been known to do instant U-turns in the middle of the Board meeting, sometimes more than once in five minutes. On some rare occasions I have even had to admit that I was wrong and Tango was right. Those moments hurt worst of all.
I think Richard is referring to accidental slips of information that may be about matters that second parties may wish to keep confidential or commercial matters (such as procurement contracts and matters of staff employment), probably, the edits are certainly not under my direction. Cheers -- (talk) 13:38, 1 October 2012 (UTC)
Tango, your comment talks about a hypothetical. Nobody has suggested using editing to remove "anything off-message". Protecting in-camera discussion from being made public is very different. Are you expecting people to persuade you that the hypothetical isn't true? That seems a singularly unhelpful way to contribute to the debate. Please come up with accusations backed by evidence, or withdraw the innuendo. MartinPoulter (talk) 16:01, 1 October 2012 (UTC)
Richard was explicitly talking about sessions that weren't in-camera. If you're thinking he's talking about things that should have been in-camera and were accidentally mentioned in open session, then I'll point out that no precautions against that were made against that in the live streamed sessions and that hasn't been given as a reason for switching from live streaming to recording. --Tango (talk) 16:45, 1 October 2012 (UTC)

In-camera meetings

A slight side issue from the above, though I do not recall asking for the video to be edited, I have in meetings asked for the video to be switched off. There are good reasons for some matters to be discussed in-camera, however I am now firmly of the opinion that too much of the Board discussion has been conducted in-camera over the last year. Currently, I am part of several board discussions running in-camera and as time continues I have been having more difficulty reconciling this behaviour with our stated value of openness and transparency or the Nolan principles stated in the Trustee Code of Conduct. For example one of the in-camera discussions is my proposal to make important board votes that would be of public interest, public, by listing the names of the trustees, how they voted against a proposal and any comments they make against their vote.

If members would like to discuss this particular aspect to votes of the UK Board, it may help our decision making process (along with a definition what should, and what should not, be held in-camera). If we do agree this change, I expect it to apply to critical votes made last week that, at this time, I believe are in the public interest; yet unfortunately our working practice hampers me from discussing with members. Thanks -- (talk) 13:57, 1 October 2012 (UTC)

Volunteers: Do you think you have an interest you should declare?

I see Wikimedia UK is painfully evolving, I hope you can sense that and help make this less painful. I am reflecting carefully on the Nolan principles and am quite uncomfortable with some of the emails appearing in my inbox over the last fortnight, in particular the principle of openness. Anyway, enough waffle; back in July this year, the trustees had a discussion about the possibility of asking volunteers to declare interests - see Talk:Declarations_of_Interest#COI by volunteers - interestingly my opinion has not shifted much since then, when I noted "I would caution against any volunteer rushing to make public declarations until the consequences are carefully thought through." In my view this is way beyond what the Charity Commission can guide us on, this is an issue for the Chapter and members to decide the way forward and set our policies appropriately. We are collectively experts on Wikimedians in Residence projects and handling funding for people to do interesting things, such as travel to Wikimania or talk in a conference in India. It is down to us as a community how far we ought to go to meet not just our legal requirements as a charity, but in good conscience find policies that enable our mission without swamping us in bureaucracy, or putting such a ghastly burden on volunteers that we just push off and do things on our own instead.

Okay, I'm going to set a few suggested principles for discussion and please, please invite others to express their opinions as this is never going to be clear cut. These are off the top of my head but I have been fretting over this for a while, I am happy to withdraw anything here or see it radically revised. If it turns into a big deal, we can move the discussion to the DoI talk page.

Declarations by volunteers; the principles
  1. Trustees and Staff are required to comply with Declarations of Interest.
  2. Volunteers who are not trustees (or past trustees) are not routinely asked about their interests or expected to make declarations. The Chapter may keep records of events attended and self-declared educational or social interests of volunteers (such as on registration pages of events) but there is no expectation that these are assessed for potential conflict of interest.
  3. Volunteers active in delivering projects or proposing funding for new projects, who have commercial interests either directly or indirectly related to the activities of the Chapter are expected to review these with the CEO and reach an understanding if there is any potential for a conflict of loyalties.
  4. Volunteers are likely to have a range of non-commercial interests (past employers, membership of institutions, work in other charities, etc.), these interests are to the benefit of the charity. If these are directly related to activities of the charity, they should be reviewed with the CEO or event organizers. For example, someone considering applying for a job in the V&A who at the same time is making a proposal for funding of a V&A related project, should review that situation with the CEO to assess if it needs to be declared and managed.
  5. Outreach events and other open events by the Chapter are open to the public and if a volunteer is not part of delivering the event, then commercial interests are not relevant to declare.
  6. Declarations of interests by volunteers may be given in confidence to the Board (being the CEO and trustees), however the Board may consider any potential conflict of loyalties requires a choice between a public statement or action to ensure that the potential conflict of loyalty presents no risk to the mission of the charity.
  7. Volunteers with an interest undergoing discussion and review by either the CEO or Board, must absent themselves from related activities of the charity until an agreement on the possible need to make a public or confidential declaration is in place.
  8. Declared interests that need to be shared with second parties (such as GLAM partners, other chapters or the Wikimedia Foundation) must be made public.
  9. All Chapter Members have a right to ask for an independent review of confidential declarations and ask the Board if any confidential declarations exist in relation to current activities.
  10. All current public declarations must be listed at Declarations of Interest. Any publicly declared interest of volunteers may be deleted on request after six months of the interest ceasing to exist.
(Note) If you are keen, you might want to read what the Charity Commission have to say about this topic at Good governance/conflicts. Their focus is on trustees, but it is useful to ponder the terms conflict of loyalties, non-financial interests and what might constitute an unmanaged conflict of interest and think about how they might apply more generally to Wikimedia UK volunteers.

Thanks -- (talk) 11:43, 3 October 2012 (UTC)


Feedback 1: Indirect benefit

I've had some feedback by email - on principle 3 above. I agree it's worrying. How on earth can we define what "indirect" might be and if it has any limits? Some difficult examples:

  • I worked for a Wellcome Trust project 3 years ago and stay in touch with some of the people there, I might want to work with them at some time in the future. Should that be declared if anything WMUK does is related to the Wellcome Trust?
  • I am retired, have life membership of Cadw and help out as an unpaid volunteer on one of the sites. Welsh heritage projects are popping up that I would like to do more with, do I need to review that with the WMUK CEO?
  • Do I have to declare having lunch with people I used to work with, particularly if we are shooting the breeze about possible future Wikimedia projects which might turn into proposals?
  • My wife works for Ordnance Survey. Am I supposed to declare that as an indirect interest if I volunteer to help with the Living Paths project which exploits open OS data? Why would I need to discuss my marriage when I am just a volunteer, not a trustee?
  • I have a recent article published Biology Letters, does that mean I need to declare that before helping with anything to do with the Royal Society?
  • I am employed by a government agency. I have a wide network of colleagues in various councils and agents. I have no intention of ever making any money related to my Wikimedia UK activities. I would rather stop volunteering with the charity than go public with my career history; do I now have to make a choice?
  • I am ready to discuss a possible interest, how does this process comply with the Data Protection Act? Would the trustees ever make my declaration public in an investigation without my agreement, considering it would be on the record?
These might be nonsense examples or a concern, at the moment we have no lines in the sand established, which is the point of opening this up for discussion. -- (talk) 17:04, 3 October 2012 (UTC)

Feedback 2: Benchmarking the process

I address the matter of indirect benefit this edit on a microgrant application page, so shan't repeat what I said here. I would also suggest looking at what other charities ask of their volunteers; and in what categories (budget holders may need to declare more than others, for example). From my experience of other charities, large and small, the proposals are overkill. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 20:51, 3 October 2012 (UTC)

I think so too, I'm open to finding a way of trimming it down and still addressing the issues as raised by the Wikimedia Foundation. A year ago I would have argued strongly against going down this route, but we seem an unusually fat "allegation target" compared to many others... probably strongly linked to being the largest English based chapter in existence and so of great interest for any issues relating to the English Wikipedia. You will note that the principles do not, and must not, involve the charity acting as an inquisition. The intention is to make it clear what may be relevant to declare, and then the volunteer knows who to talk it over with in confidence. I look forward to the coming independent governance review which may provide some ideas along these lines by pinning down the evidence of what issues there are to fix, and provide some charity benchmarking tips as you suggest.
After reading your response on the QRWorldExpo microgrant page, I would like to pick up again on the issue of the impossibility of addressing what might be indirect benefit. I think this has huge potential to be a ghastly mistake if not handled with care. There is an risk that our processes will blight good proposals and opportunities to be innovative, as we gradually move to a climate where volunteers as well as trustees come under extreme, aggressive and at times quite malicious scrutiny. Anyone who might bid for some contract work for the charity, volunteer for a project with significant expenses or work on a partnership agreement with an institution they happen to know from experience, will be under pressure to confess vague related interests and expect to have their past trawled for potential declaration issues. With a history of stalking and harassment against members of our community, most of our experienced volunteers would think twice about how heavily they are prepared to get publicly involved, and we know of many that would walk away if they were asked to make public declarations, this has already happened for prospective trustees who have no choice in the matter. Perhaps this is the reality of the situation and we should constrain what we do and expect some volunteers to drift away from the charity as a result. With the 4th anniversary coming up, I hope we can get over this hump in the road and find a smart way of speeding up again. -- (talk) 22:55, 3 October 2012 (UTC)

Feedback 3: Background checks, anonymity and perception

I have had an email from a second volunteer (I hope readers here are noting that this is the second person wanting to stay anonymous) with the following concerns (paraphrased):

  1. Will WMUK be perceived as trying to tell volunteers what they can and can't do along with testing whether they are "loyal" to the chapter? --Anon
    • Yes, I think we will be perceived that way. Note that membership of the charity is conditional on acting for the best interests of the charity, any declared conflict of loyalties would be assessed in this way. Please note that "conflict of loyalties" is Charity Commission phrasing, it is probably better interpreted by example cases rather than definitions. This is something in our policy (should we adopt one in this area) to pin down with lots of good examples we can agree on. For example if your Dad is a Director of a company that happens to be supplying Wikimedia UK with temporary contract staff, then that would be an issue of potential conflict of loyalty if, as a volunteer, you are part of making proposals or decisions for funding a WMUK project that generates more consultancy work for that company. In such a situation we would not be accusing you of not being "loyal", we just do not want anyone to be left in a position where such a conflict exists and is not managed appropriately and seen to be managed. -- (talk) 15:31, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
  2. Is this a background check? --Anon
    • No, this is a voluntary process of making a self declaration. WMUK does not plan to make its own background checks. However, if there is a specific allegation of conflict of interest or conflict of loyalties, then WMUK may be obliged to put the allegation to the volunteer for a response. Our processes are not clear in this last area and we may need to add to the Whistle-blowing Policy. -- (talk) 15:31, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
  3. What happens when this is a volunteer who wishes to protect their identity even (or especially) when going to real life events and meetings? If they are required to reveal conflict of interest information, surely that makes it very easy to work out who they are? --Anon
    • This will be an issue. Any initial discussion of whether a confidential declaration is needed, would itself always stay confidential. However once considered worth a confidential declaration, issues may become apparent that require a public declaration and it is hard to say we (the Board of trustees) would never need to reveal the identity of the volunteer involved, or that we could keep their identity anonymous or pseudonymous if we tried. As you point out, in our real life situations, it is not normally hard to work out who we might be referring to, and as a result of this risk of some matters having to become public for the best interest of the charity, I have no doubt that in rare cases, volunteers will sadly prefer step back from some activities after their initial confidential discussion. -- (talk) 15:31, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

Visiting WMUK next week

Hello, folks.

I will be visited the WMUK office for a couple of days starting this coming Monday morning, and would love to meet as many WMUK members as possible. This would be an opportunity for me to learn more about WMUK's programs and interests, and for you to learn more about the Wikimedia Foundation's programs, and to ask any questions you may have.

Please let me know if you'd be interested in meeting, and we'll schedule something! I will be in London until Thursday morning.

Cheers! Ijon (talk) 19:06, 3 October 2012 (UTC)

Unfortunately I wouldn't be able to meet up. I'm already travelling to London multiple times for WMUK events in the next few weeks. One too many I'm afraid. Hope to meet you some other time, maybe in Hong Kong. KTC (talk) 13:53, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

Diff template

The template {{Diff}}, as used on en.Wikipedia, is now available on this wiki. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 21:53, 3 October 2012 (UTC)

Lang template

The template {{Lang}}, as used on en.Wikipedia, for indicating the language of non-English text, is now available on this wiki, in a modified form, which uses only one category. C'est magnifique! Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 22:15, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

Trustees and "cabinet voting"

There are current discussions for the Wikimedia UK board of trustees to institute "cabinet voting". My understanding of how this would work, would mean that trustees would be obliged to publicly support the majority outcome of key votes, even if privately they continue to disagree with them. It may also be used to ensure all trustees vote the same way in a public vote. Should a trustee wish to publicly disagree, then they would have no alternative but to resign as a trustee before being free to speak. I would be interested in the views of WMUK members and have set up a poll at Doodle. Thanks -- (talk) 14:58, 6 October 2012 (UTC)

This is an absolutely horrendous proposal and goes right against the heart of the principles of openness and transparency which underpins the Wikimedia movement, and upon which Wikimedia UK was founded on. Even the WMF Board now list individual trustees' votes on a resolution.[14] This is nothing more than a half-assed attempt to hide division within the heart of the current board of trustees that only serve to reduce accountability of individual trustee and damages the chapter. Whoever proposed this, shame on you! -- KTC (talk) 16:38, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
I'm not sure where Fæ is coming from here - a search of my inbox for "cabinet voting" doesn't bring up anything. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 16:50, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
See, for example, the direct advice to the Board from Jon Davis "[WMUK Board] Confirmation of our discussion" @25 September 2012 21:40. Look for "cabinet responsibility" and/or "cabinet rules" rather than "cabinet voting". Thanks -- (talk) 17:19, 6 October 2012 (UTC)

If this is a genuine proposal, then it is obviously an extremely bad one. Wikimedia UK is a democratically run organisation, which means the electorate needs to know individual opinions in order to hold the board to account (directly, through their votes, and in other ways). Is that actually the proposal, or is someone just suggesting a "disagree and commit" approach where, once the vote is over and you've lost, you commit to following the agreed course of action and to supporting it in the sense of doing what you can to make it a success? Disagreeing and committing can be a very effective way of handling a body which has both a decision making role and a role in executing those decisions (as the WMUK board does). Being forced to pretending that you don't disagree, on the other hand, is a tyranny of the majority. Setting up a Doodle poll, by the way, is a very bad way to handle this situation - it's much better to discuss it than to count heads. --Tango (talk) 17:07, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
Katie - the trustees already have "collective responsibility" for the organisation. See, for instance, the Charity Commission guidelines here: http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/publications/cc3.aspx#e8
I am not exactly sure what Fae thinks is being proposed. Certainly, we've received advice saying that on issues like those we've been dealing with in the last couple of weeks, we ought to minute which trustees are in favour of, and which against, particular proposals. (i.e. putting us more in line with the Wikimedia Foundation's practice). I don't know where the idea " It may also be used to ensure all trustees vote the same way in a public vote" comes from.
The relevant part of the existing Trustee Code of Conduct says; "I will participate in collective decision making, accept a majority decision of the board and will not act individually unless specifically authorised to do so."
Many thanks, The Land (talk) 17:33, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
"Collective responsibility" is not "Cabinet rules", please refer to the email from Jon to the Board, I reference above in my reply to Mike. Thanks -- (talk) 17:38, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
Collective responsibility was my choice of wording in describing the initial suggestion and I apologise if I caused any confusion. My comment relate to what Fae suggest was being proposed and not the collective decision making process described within the Trustee Code of Conduct and CC's advice. KTC (talk) 18:07, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
I was going to comment but Katie has expressed my opinions much more clearly than I could. What KTC said Filceolaire (talk) 18:37, 6 October 2012 (UTC)

To avoid any confusion, this was the advice from Jon to the Board on 25 September:

That the board explicitly undertake to support these decisions and actions subsequent to these decisions. (accepting 'cabinet responsibility' on this issue).

The fact that the Chief Executive has made a firm proposal to adopt a system of cabinet responsibility is what I mean by "current discussions" in my first comment on this thread.

Jon's recommendation was clarified by advice from our governance expert Peter Williams on 26 September, who stated:

I think it is important that you mention the 'cabinet rules' issue because at our away day at least one trustee spoke against that principle and said that individual trustees should make clear to 'the community' where they individually stood, and that they should feel free to pursue an independent line in person and on-line. In view of the importance of regaining the confidence of the Foundation, I strongly feel that on this issue it would be good to require self-discipline. In this way the Foundation will know that good governance practice is being followed. In addition WMUK members and the community can be left in doubt about the direction of travel. That is not to say that discussions about the decision will not continue in camera around the Boardroom table, if needed. Board members who cannot sign up to 'cabinet responsibility' might have to consider their position.

I believe Peter may have had me in mind when he referred to someone speaking against the principle, as I do believe it is a good thing to make it clear to "the community" where I stand on the most important issues, in fact I believe it to be a perfectly reasonable interpretation of the Nolan principles described in the Trustee Code of Conduct and, frankly, I find it increasing disturbing that we are moving to working practices or a new system of Board behaviour where I may only ever be allowed to speak in-camera on our most important issues. This is quite different from a reasonable and common interpretation of collective responsibility where I would always support final consensus when it is agreed for the benefit of the charity, but would still be free to vote against the majority and be able to explain, publicly, why I did so — if I felt this was in the public interest and in line with our stated values.

The alternative of forcing trustees to resign in order to have a right of free speech seems counter-intuitive when reviewed against our values ("To be transparent and open") and against our Trustee Code of Conduct when no expressly confidential material is involved ("The Trustees ... and should be as open as possible about their decisions and action that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider interest clearly demands.").

As for the definition of "Cabinet rules", I was going by the most common definition as shown at Cabinet collective responsibility. If my fellow trustees want to make up an alternative definition that suits Wikimedia UK, I would be happy to follow the consensus definition should it ever be adopted by the Board. Cheers -- (talk) 22:53, 6 October 2012 (UTC)

Thank you for elaborating. I think it is clear that the board needs to thank their governance expert for his advice, but explain that such a policy would not be consistent with our values of transparency and openness. The WMF also subscribes to these values, so would be very suspicious if the board were to adopt such a policy. Has anyone on the board actually suggested following that advice? --Tango (talk) 23:32, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict) You might want to change your "governance expert", especially as the WMF has been burned by the problems of collective responsibility and moved to a more open model. Take the recent image filter vote. OK on this issue they all voted the same way - but crucially they have moved to naming those who vote for or against motions. This has several advantages over collective responsibility, in particular if the movement and the board are both divided it avoids the debate becoming a WMF v the community split. Community cohesion is much easier to maintain if the losing minority know that they have board members who are arguing their case. Of course you need to make sure that trustees are clear when they are speaking in a minority or personal capacity, and if you have particular trustees who lead on particular topics it is important that they share the majority view of the board on that topic. But it would be quite bizarre for WMUK to move to a system that the WMF has upgraded from in the belief that this would somehow impress the WMF. Collective responsibility is somewhat defensible idea in politics, because people vote for parties at least as much as they do politicians and arguably they expect single party cabinets to be cohesive. But outside politics it is pernicious and disempowers the members as voters because they don't know which of the trustees really believed in a particular proposal. WereSpielChequers (talk) 23:40, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
I'm afraid I have to agree that the charity has, here, received some poor (or at least unsuited) advice. Cabinet responsibility is important in political systems that a) involve more than one party and b) has a system of collective responsibility. We fit neither situation, and so cabinet responsibility would be very bad governance for us, as we rely on accountability and openness to succeed. --ErrantX (talk) 08:36, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
It's probably helpful if I share some more of the emai l Fae is quoting above. I think there's a misapprehension taking hold. Our previous practice has been to not record which Trustees have voted which way on which motions - not out of a desire to hide anything, but because decisions have generally been taken by consensus. The advice we've received recently has been that we ought to record which Trustees have voted in which directions, particularly in sensitive situations. To quote another relevant section of the email Fae refers to above;
" [this situation is] one of the few occasions when Boards need to go to a vote formally and record each trustees vote. Even if the vote is 'unanimous' it clarifies for each trustee that they are jointly and severally accountable for the decision made."
I hope this is useful. The Land (talk) 09:04, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

It would be helpful if someone could share the entire email and the minutes of the discussion regarding it. Having individual trustees quoting small portions out of context and without any indication of what the board's response to that advice was all in order to support whatever point it is they are trying, cryptically, to make is getting very tiresome. The members of this charity are not pawns to be used and manipulated to achieve your political goals. If the board, or an individual trustee, wants to consult members, they need to share all relevant information so that we can give informed views. --Tango (talk) 11:52, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

I expressed my view about being able to share information with members on this page at #In-camera meetings. It is not my intention to use members as pawns, and I am unconvinced that I have political goals unless you count being passionate about our Mission. Cheers -- (talk) 12:01, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

Are we confusing two issues here?

The board is collectively responsible for its decisions (or anything it failed to decide upon). All are responsible. That does not mean that all have to agree.

For a big issue this could be quite hard for a board member, being responsible for something they don’t agree with. If they think it is that big a deal they can resign. But that doesn’t mean they have to resign or pretend that they agree with the decision. They can still state their disagreement publicly. If they make a massive fuss about it then may get people’s backs up, so they may want to not say any more on the subject but even that wouldn’t be compulsory.

This may be confusing for some people at some times but we just have to explain to them that this is part of being open.

Yaris678 (talk) 14:56, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

Correct. There is still confusion on the difference between the Charity Commission term "collective responsibility" and the more loaded term "cabinet responsibility". The first I have no difficulty in fully supporting and complying with as a trustee of the charity, the second gives me the willies for its potential to damage our value of openness. This was again presented to the Board for the 9 October meeting for the term* to be adopted as a change to trustee behaviour, without explaining what the difference is. Talking informally to a lawyer today, I firmly believe that this enforced behavioural change would represent such a fundamental change to the role expected of trustees that were voted in at the AGM, that this would be a reinterpretation of our Articles of Association and probably need an EGM to put in place.
I remain puzzled how such a change would be enforced. If a trustee who had been elected to the board by the members of the charity, were to feel under the Nolan principles that they were required to be honest and open about a problem for the public interest, or for the benefit of members, then it would be very odd indeed for the rest of the board to have the power to force that trustee off the board for saying something that the majority felt was better not discussed openly under some form of "cabinet rules" behavioural policy.
  • Note the terms "cabinet voting", "cabinet responsibility" and "cabinet decision" have all appeared recently during board discussion and lack any clear definition or any explanation to what extent they are any different to "collective responsibility" which already applies by default to the charity, and does not require the board to start making strange declarations about changing from a board of charity trustees to a "cabinet" as soon as they start worrying about what one lone trustee might say to members about in-camera or other closed discussions.
Thanks -- (talk) 16:30, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
Thanks Fæ,
So I guess there are two possibilities here:
  1. The use of terms that include the word "cabinet" was caused by some kind of confusion about the meaning of "collective responsibility" and/or the meaning of "cabinet collective responsibility".
  2. The use of terms that include the word "cabinet" is about changinging the nature of the responsibility of trustees.
I can see that Fæ suspects it is 2 but I would be interested to know what others think. Especially those who have used terms that include the word "cabinet" - what did you mean by that?
Yaris678 (talk) 11:14, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

Membership renewal

Hey all. I appreciate that membership (as opposed to donor) renewal is, financially at least, a low priority, but could someone fix the fact that all the wording at /join is completely oblivious to the fact the same web address is used for membership renewals as well as applications? Making a new form takes time, I know, but some bracketed "(or renew)"s would not go amiss :) Thanks, Jarry1250 (talk) 11:49, 8 October 2012 (UTC)

Great point, thanks! We've been working on getting membership renewal emails working properly once more, so quite a lot of renewal reminders have gone out today. I've updated the text of the page to show that it can also be used for renewals. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 11:58, 8 October 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for this feedback :D Have a look at 2012_Membership_strategy_consultation and WMUK_membership_survey_-_suggestions_and_comments if you have time to add any comments :D Katherine Bavage (WMUK) (talk) 13:24, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

Wikimedia Chapters Association

I appreciate that this is not exactly a priority at the moment but I was looking through the various wiki pages regarding the Wikimedia Chapters Association, I came across this:

"A Council Member and the chapter that appoints him should make clear what they expect from each other. A Council Member usually is supposed to inform the chapter about what happens in the WCA, and listen to the chapter. A chapter should be supportive to the CM it appointed and help him to inform the chapter members and give feedback." [15]

Looking through the WCA Charter and m:Berlin Agreement there doesn't seem to be any basis for this in the founding documents but I notice it was added in by Ziko, the WCA Deputy Chair [16]

I wondered whether the WMUK board had done anything in this regard? The only mention I can find is in a brief board minute that referred to an email decision appointing Fae at Minutes_30Jun12#Close_(and_post-meeting_decision)

Thanks for indulging me! AndrewRT (talk) 20:54, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

I have kept the Board informed on what has been happening with the WCA at each board meeting and given my fellow trustees insight on some questions as they arose. We did discuss the balance between having a representative on the Council versus my role as the Chair, though this is not the sort of wide ranging discussion that we keep minutes of. WMUK is funding my expenses to attend CEE conference this weekend as the WCA Chair, on the basis of this being counted against the forecast budget for supporting the WCA. -- (talk) 22:13, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for getting back to me. Has the board set out anything in terms of what their priorities are for their representative or similar? AndrewRT (talk) 22:20, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
No. You are welcome to draft something. It would be a neat focus for not only the Board to decide how to make this work but also WMUK members to chip in with ideas of what they would like to get out of the WCA and find a better way of expressing the member's views on issues that come up, or even better, propose some resolutions ourselves to the WCA.
Note, there is no requirement for the WCA representative to be a trustee of WMUK, so in future we could consider an alternative way of appointing a representative who may not have a seat on the Board; someone like yourself for example... -- (talk) 22:38, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
I'll have a think. Do you know if any other chapters followed the advice and done something similar? AndrewRT (talk) 23:00, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
I do not know of any - my assumption would be that though some chapter boards have had discussion, none has been this formal. Even getting letters to confirm representatives, along with contact emails so that they can be contacted for a vote, has been an uphill struggle. Please keep in mind that though the UK board is brutally self-critical, we are probably one of leading chapters in self imposed bureaucracy and formalism. :-) -- (talk) 04:12, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

Governance: Should the trustees have resolutions and votes in public by default?

Question: Would members like resolutions and votes of trustees to be public by default, with the criteria for those decisions needing to be in-camera explained clearly?

The current working practice of the Board is that trustees raise resolutions on the :office wiki, which is limited to staff and trustees. There are several ongoing decisions right now that are probably of interest to members and I have partially raised issues on this water cooler to give them some air. I have listed most of the current and recent decisions below and I would think all of these could have been held in public without creating a reputational risk or invading anybody's right to privacy:

Current decisions yet to be closed
  • Decisions/2012 DOI review
  • Decisions/In-camera minutes
  • Decisions/Payment of Europeana
  • Decisions/Payment of Invoice 114 (for EduWiki)
  • Decisions/Welsh Conference
Approved in the last couple of months
  • Decisions/Appointment of Saad Choudri as Director
  • Decisions/Approval of media training budget
  • Decisions/Digital Past 2013
  • Decisions/Payment of Invoice 126 (paying the Accountants)
  • Decisions/To appoint Martin Poulter as Associate

Cheers -- (talk) 07:49, 15 October 2012 (UTC)

Yes please. I would have liked to have set these decisions out in public right from the start, but I haven't pushed for that yet since I was expecting that it would result in long emails back from you opposing that approach. My plan was to raise this for discussion at the next board meeting, if there was time to do so. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 07:59, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
Sounds good, as usual Mike and I only appear to disagree ;-) Could members give feedback here, particularly on what would or would not be acceptable reasons for a vote to remain in-camera, and Mike or I will ensure that a resolution is put forward at the November board meeting? -- (talk) 08:06, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
I'm not sure that "only appear to disagree" is the best way to characterise our discussions. I would say that we disagree, then we talk, then we figure out a position that we can both be happy with. At least, that's the feeling I'm left with. If we're actually only appearing to disagree, then please could we jump straight to the agreement stage, or figure out a less stressful approach to reaching agreement? Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 21:11, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I would love to skip to the end, though that means a purely dictatorial approach where we might all be surprised afterwards about the full meaning of what was agreed. I am aware it may not always feel that we are in agreement, but in practice our positions and viewpoints are very close on most issues. On the whole, having more of the board debates in public would help us in several ways, one benefit being that the members can see what a tough time we have coming to a consensus and how we do not make serious decisions lightly but explore the issues in the process, indeed the members may help do that in parallel; it will also ensure we adopt our aim to stay convivial in discussion, something we would all like to see. -- (talk) 21:53, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
I would, of course, welcome increased transparency from the board. I think the vast majority of resolutions could be public, although a few may need to be redacted to respect the confidentiality of third parties (eg. remove the name from a resolution appointing a new board member). An unredacted version would obviously need to be kept on the office wiki. Resolutions about paying invoices just shouldn't exist in the first place - that isn't a board level decision. The board may need to approve the expenditure if it isn't within an approved budget, but if the money has been spent and an invoice issued, then the charity has to pay it. Board approval needs to come before the money is spent (ideally as part of approving the annual budget, although there will be spending out of budget occasionally that will need separate approval). The board can't just decide not to pay an invoice - it is too late to object by then. --Tango (talk) 18:50, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
LOL, with regard to this strange invoice approval system, yes of course that is correct. I am not going to explain how hard our current system sucks, apart from saying that indeed it sucks very hard, particularly when I find myself approving something for the third time. I will leave an explanation of why this is so and the history of how we got to this stage, to someone who has the energy to try to explain it in a positive way and understands the logic better than I. Thanks -- (talk) 19:23, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
This was a side-effect of the revision to our financial policy that "The Board must formally approve of any expense that exceeds £5,000, excluding recurring expenses (such as salary, pensions and rent).". Of course, this approval should come before the invoice stage is reached. However, in the interim period when this policy is starting to be implemented, there will naturally be some expenses that need to be approved at the invoice stage. Of course that's not the best stage for this approval to take place, and I understand that these two situations were the only cases where this was necessary. Mike Peel (talk) 21:11, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
Never mind before the invoice stage is reached, if that's the policy, then the ordering of service or purchase in the charity name cannot be made in the first place until board approval. If you have a (correct) invoice coming in for service or purchase delivered of over £5,000 without board approval of the expense already, then the Finance Policy has been violated. The charity incur an expense when it made the agreement with the supplier, not when the charity finally make the payment. Once the charity agreed with a supplier for service or purchase in return for payment, it's too late afterwards for the board to decide it doesn't want that expense. KTC (talk) 23:27, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
KTC, you may want to note my vote, recently made public at Agenda 8Jan13 sec.4.3, so I feel free to put this in some context even though the details, which span several months, remain in-camera. This was precisely the situation where the first time the trustees were asked or were able to vote in relation to services (costing more than £5,000), was at the time when an invoice was presented well after the services had been delivered. The trustees had no realistic way of refusing payment, as the monies were apparently legally due, consequently I believe this should never have been put to a vote. I believe you are correct in your summary of how this process is an obvious problem, it is not a hypothetical problem. Thanks -- (talk) 17:24, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
I've set up a decision page at Decisions/Releasing_in-camera_decisions to figure out which of the in-camera decisions made on the office wiki can be publicly released. The terms of voting on that page are: "If you want to release any of these decision pages publicly, then please vote 'aye' below and specify all of the decision page numbers that you are happy with being publicly released, or please vote 'nay' if you object to any decisions being made public. 'abstain' votes should only be made on a temporary basis here. You may vote 'Aye' multiple times should you want to release additional pages that weren't included in your original vote. Decisions will be made public 24 hours after a majority vote has approved them being released, providing that no 'nay' votes have been received prior to their release." I've also set up a mirror of the functionality of the decision pages at Decisions to receive copies of past decisions, and to provide a venue for future public decision-making processes. I hope that this meets with Fæ's expectations here, and that we can start moving the records of past decisions onto this public wiki. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 21:49, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
From my earlier comment to this page, you already knew where I stand on this and I would also very much welcome increased transparency. Resolutions and individual votes should be publicly recorded. Generally speaking, in-camera disussions and votes should take place to protect the privacy and confidentiality of third parties and individual as appropriate. (e.g. Membership approval discussion, discussion on appointment of new trustees though not the final resolution and its votes, details of individual tenders or quotes on services requested) KTC (talk) 23:09, 15 October 2012 (UTC)

List of valid reasons for Board resolutions to be in-camera

Based on KTC's comment above and an email I sent to the board yesterday, I have started the list below of valid reasons. I would expect trustees to make a judgement on a case by case basis but aim to stick to these reasons unless there is strong justification otherwise. I welcome members to refine the list or discuss further: -- (talk) 06:38, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

  1. There are individual privacy concerns
    1. Membership approvals and terminations
    2. Legal challenges, potential defamation
    3. Confidential declarations of interests involved
    4. Staff issues - CE performance, interpreting policy for specific cases and human resources/contingency strategy
  2. Commercial confidentiality makes it necessary
    1. Details of contract negotiations
    2. Supplier or staff contracts, salaries or rates (excepting open procurement processes)
  3. Discussion in public may create an unacceptable reputational risk
    1. Issues with relationships with other organizations where the discussion may be a threat to the relationship
    2. Hypothetical risk planning where the existence of the discussion itself may create issues or encourage the risk
    3. Responses to currently identified reputational risks where it would be inappropriate to make a contingency plan public
    4. Legal challenges where public discussion may compromise a current or future case

"Staff issues" is a bit vague. Does this mean "staff disciplinary issues"? Does it include things like organising maternity cover? (I expect the chief executive to lead on these things but the board may want to discuss them). As Fæ has said, trustees should use their judgment... but it would be nice to have a bit more for them to go on. Yaris678 (talk) 09:08, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

The trustees would not get involved in "discipline", though we do hold senior management to account and provide a performance review for the Chief Executive (which considers any issues with general staff performance for which he must be ultimately responsible on our behalf). We would discuss and vote on major policy changes which can include the policy for maternity/paternity leave, but again any specific case would be down to the CE to sort out as an operational decision. A significant part of charity trustee training is to get this balance of how trustees separate their duty for operational monitoring from operational management, it's not easy for us to get right, particularly as we have only been a charity for a year and are still finding our organizational feet.
I have added a few extra words which make it a bit clearer to what level this would be relevant and might be in-camera. For example, a staff member may tell the CE that they are going to need significant leave due to hospital treatment, if this is beyond our current contingency plans then the CE might present a plan to the trustees for enough budget to cover temporary staff and impact to existing schedules that the trustees would have to vote on; though the budget change would eventually become public, the details of the staff member needing hospital treatment and the expectations of how long they might need to recover would be in-camera, if discussed to that level of detail, out of respect for personal privacy. -- (talk) 11:22, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
I think it would be good to make it clear that these are situations where it might be necessary to go in camera, rather than where will be necessary. Nothing should happen in camera without that specific case being considered on its own merits. --Tango (talk) 11:39, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
Completely agree, our default position will be to make everything public unless there are very good reasons why not and that, if quizzed later, the trustees are prepared to justify. If you would like to add some words to the list above to make this clearer, please go ahead. -- (talk) 12:36, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

Sue Gardner - the purpose of the WMF is not ensure or support chapter development

Our purpose is not to ensure the chapters grow and develop, nor is it to support the chapters in their growth and development: rather, chapters are our partners in supporting editors and other content creators.
Sue Gardner/Narrowing focus

I think this is probably a good thing in the long term, and this was the view I put forward at the Central and Eastern Europe Conference last weekend. It may put a lot of pressure on establishing the WCA, something that I worry about a lot. Are there any other views, concerns, expectations in response from a WMUK member perspective? -- (talk) 13:31, 18 October 2012 (UTC)

I have tweaked Fæ's link. The comment is on the user page, rather than the user-talk page.
To be specific, Sue's comments is at m:User:Sue Gardner/Narrowing focus#We will focus our support for movement-wide organizational development on grant-making and crisis response
As a statement of fact is fine. The purpose of the foundation does not include supporting the chapters and does include supporting content creators. It comes down to a question of strategy. Does supporting the chapters help to achieve the purpose of supporting content creators? Certainly it is one way to do it, but there are other ways. It seems that the foundation wants to focus on those other ways, by providing grants and developing the software and hardware.
It looks like Sue sees it as up to the chapters how they see themselves fitting in to this. The idea of chapters supporting each other through the chapters association sounds like it could be a good thing, certainly it is less hierarchical.
The bit where it starts to get difficult is money.
There are a lot of money-related questions but I think the first one is "How is money from the fundraiser to be divided?"
Is the idea that all the money will go to the foundation and then the chapter will have to apply for grants from the foundation? That obviously has tax implications. It also means that the chapter's income is dependent on the decisions of the foundation's funds dissemination committee.
Yaris678 (talk) 08:18, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
(Slight clarification) The chapter's income is not wholly dependent on the largess of the FDC. WMDE, for example, has 60% of their income outside of the annual Wikimedia website banners fund raiser. So if the Foundation went out of business tomorrow, for example due to a massive legal case in the USA taking all the movement's money in legal fees, then WMDE would still exist independently. I understand that WMUK has enough in "alternative channels" to cover basic office costs for the year, again giving us a rationale to claim that in extremis we could operate independently of the annual fund raiser. As a long term strategy, it might be in the interests of the WMF and the chapters to encourage alternatives to the website fund raiser; should, say, the banner fund raiser start dropping in income, I have no doubt that operations would take precedence over any chapter or thematic grants. -- (talk) 08:50, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
Yaris has it exactly right. Supporting chapters isn't the purpose of the WMF, it is simply a means to an end. It has long been clear that Sue is not convinced it is a particularly good means to that end. --Tango (talk) 11:19, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
Thanks Fæ, it was probably worth pointing that out.
However, money is still obviously a big issue.
But perhaps we should look at it in a more philosophical way. Here's a question: If, when it comes to UK-related content and contributors, WMUK is not a good way for the foundation to achieve its aim of supporting content contributors then what is WMUK for?
Yaris678 (talk) 11:24, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
That's actually easier to answer than you might think, "Wikimedia UK’s mission is to help people and organisations build and preserve open knowledge to share and use freely". This is not limited to "the UK" or limited to "supporting content contributors" for Wikimedia projects alone (such as the English Wikipedia or Wikimedia Commons). Our mission should be thought about exactly as stated, that might include funding volunteers to develop a QRPedia related project we host and operate in the UK, or fund Open Street Map building mobile applications for global mapping, or support the OKF with some of our staff to help run a conference to lobby European Parliament on making copyright more open. In other words, our purpose can become whatever the members can to imagine and propose to fulfil our mission, this is not, and should not be, just more wikimeets, Wikipedia based edit-a-thons or the general promotion of Wikimedia. -- (talk) 13:09, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

Interesting... you have inspired me to check the WMF's mission:

The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.

In collaboration with a network of chapters, the Foundation provides the essential infrastructure and an organizational framework for the support and development of multilingual wiki projects and other endeavors which serve this mission. The Foundation will make and keep useful information from its projects available on the Internet free of charge, in perpetuity.

The mission statement of the Wikimedia Foundation

The most obvious point is that the mission says the foundation will work in collaboration with the chapters. This seems to contradict what Sue has said. Or to put it another way, Sue wants to change or ignore the mission. This is not something which should be done lightly.

I know I seem to be contradicting what I said before about the foundations purpose, but

  1. I admit ignorance of the mission until I just checked it now
  2. Mission is slightly different to purpose. In this case the mission includes the purpose and some indication of how the purpose is to be achieved, i.e. through collaboration with a network of chapters, provision of infrastructure, organisational framework etc.

I want to make another point about how our mission, branding etc. are similar to the WMF's, but perhaps we should deal with this issue first.

i.e. Is Sue Gardner really trying to change or ignore part of the WMF's mission?

Yaris678 (talk) 14:46, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

I haven't read that page in full, but I don't think Sue is proposing to sever ties with the chapters, just to de-emphasise chapter development as part of the WMF's role. The mission statement doesn't mention chapter development. --Tango (talk) 17:28, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
Well, of course, it all depends on what is meant by "support" and "development". Don't get me wrong. I don't think it is the role of the WMF to solve every problem for the chapters. It is only right that chapters do most things for themselves. Again, this is where money comes in and complicates the issue. If WMUK is a shadow of what we could be then it isn't much of a collaboration partner. Yaris678 (talk) 10:04, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
You're preaching to the choir - I think chapters have great potential and that the WMF should be helping chapters achieve it. That doesn't mean that failing to do so means they are violating their mission, which was your claim. --Tango (talk) 11:17, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
I wouldn't use the word violate. The point is: if the chapters can't do much there will be little point in the WMF collaborating with them.
The first paragraph of the WMF mission describes the purpose of the WMF. The second paragraph describes how they see they will achieve their purpose. Sue appears to be concentrating on the first paragraph and ignoring the second.
Yaris678 (talk) 11:53, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
That chapters need to grow and develop doesn't imply that the WMF needs to take responsibility for making that happen if they think the WCA or the individual chapters themselves are better placed to do it. (I'm not necessarily agreeing with Sue, but I don't think her position is inconsistent with the mission statement.) --Tango (talk) 12:26, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
It depends what you mean by "take responsibility for making that happen". The vast majority of donations to Wikimedia are to the WMF. That gives them a kind of responsibility. Of course, if they allow some of the donations to go to chapters then the chapters can take the associated responsibility and collaborate with each other and the WMF. Yaris678 (talk) 14:33, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
BTW. I don't want to give the wrong impression. Sue Gardner/Narrowing focus does not say anything about stopping funding going to chapters. It is all very sensible stuff about giving the foundation a clear and focused role. It is mostly about what the foundation's staff will be doing. Yaris678 (talk) 14:51, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
Actually, looking again at the quote Fæ took, Sue clearly says "chapters are our partners in supporting editors and other content creators", which is a reiteration of the bit of the mission I thought she might be ignoring.
So basically it's all fine.
Money is still a complicating factor but t'was ever thus and Sue's comment doesn't change that.
Sorry for any confusion I have caused!
Yaris678 (talk) 15:12, 26 October 2012 (UTC)

Governance: Assessment of trustee declared and undeclared interests

Around 3 weeks ago I raised an in-camera vote for the Board so that a systematic independent review of declarations of interest by trustees would be conducted on an at least annual basis, with recommendations and evidence of the review on the record (albeit with the full details not public where there are irrelevant personal and confidential issues). The in-camera vote has got a bit bogged down in the details, such as wanting to name in advance who would be on the panel (which could vary depending on the person who's interests are being looked at). Needless to say, a number of current trustees do have confidential declarations of interest, including me, and the choice of when these should be made public declarations has no guideline established, though we have tried to apply common-sense and good practice that we see working in other charities.

Rather than a small review panel limited to trustees looking at each other's confidential and public declarations of interest, it makes sense for non-trustees, such as Associates, the CEO and possibly others to be part of an annual review. In the long term this could be planned to run soon after the AGM, when we would have new trustees that may be unsure which interests (financial and non-financial) would be relevant to declare to in confidence to the Board or in public at Declarations of Interest. I believe this is an important and urgent task. I would like a review to be done, and seen to be done, of all trustee interests, including a (possibly rotating) panel interviewing trustees who have made some or no public or confidential declarations, to ensure that declarations are sufficient, necessary (i.e. I do not have to declare a ham sandwich someone offered me two years ago) and remove the risk of later surprises from conflicts of loyalty or financial interests which have been unmanaged. This will also help with the pending governance review as the reviewer may find a set of up to date detailed declarations helpful and the review itself reassuring to be on the record.

I welcome feedback here from members who have thoughts on how we should conduct the annual review, who ought to be on the panel and how we ensure independence, and what guidelines we might need in place to ensure that trustees understand what declarations need to be in public and which remain suitable to be made in-camera.

Saying all this, trustees are required to maintain declarations throughout the year and any conflicts are declared as they arise in addition to any annual process. Thanks -- (talk) 17:08, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

Do you have any examples of how other non-profits handle this sort of thing? Except where there is reason to believe there might be a problem, I've never heard of an organisation doing more than asking people to declare their interests and sign something saying the declaration is accurate and complete. I'm not really sure what this review panel would do. Are they going to do background checks to try and catch people out? I'd rather just get the board some proper training on conflicts so they understand what kind of things do and don't need to be declared. --Tango (talk) 18:32, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
We know what Parliament does, and the level of scrutiny we need against the Nolan principles is (at this moment) not dissimilar. The problem with leaving it down to individual trustees, such as myself, to make their own judgements in the absence of detailed guidelines, is that we end up with inconsistent declarations, some publicly and pointlessly declaring a ham sandwich from 2 years ago, whilst others may fail to make any declaration of a working relationship from 2 years ago that they feel is not current, but some of our members might later find to have been a conflict of loyalties with current WMUK partnerships were it to be made public. This is not a panel doing background checks, but a panel that can recommend if a confidential declaration should be better made public to avoid later claims that the Board were covering up a conflict of loyalties, or that can review potential declarations that a trustee feels are not worth declaring, but may be happy to discuss should the panel feel the "ham sandwich" is in the public interest to declare. As a trustee, with my experience over the last couple of years, I have no interest in being subject to another witch-hunt; that is not the intention here, but a panel to help provide guidance in an area where a simple policy document may never be possible to pin down every reasonable scenario and variation. -- (talk) 20:00, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
The solution to an absence of detailed guidelines is to come up with (or, ideally, copy) some detailed guidelines. Such guidelines would be provided as part of any trustee training on conflicts (which, it is blindingly obvious, the board needs to have). I don't see why this panel of yours would be any better at judging whether something is worth declaring or not than trustees themselves. I am far from an expert on how Parliament handles declarations of interest, but my understanding is that there is simply a register of interests much the same as WMUK has that they put all their interests in and then they mention any interests that are relevant to a particular debate when they first contribute to that debate. I'm not aware of Parliament having a panel similar to the one you describe (although I'm sure the clerks or the Speaker's office or someone would be able to provide guidance to an MP that was unsure of whether to declare something or not - they are experts, however, not random volunteers). --Tango (talk) 21:13, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

Automated spam/attack accounts

Every day :wmuk seems to get two or three spam accounts created, see Special:Log/newusers. These are probably from the same spambot. Any suggestions of how we could automatically identify and block such malicious accounts? -- (talk) 10:16, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

It all has to be done by stewards, because we're a small wiki. It's best to email them every now and again so they can CU the accounts. Richard Symonds (WMUK) (talk) 12:46, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

Would you like to help record future board meetings?

Hello everyone. I've committed to start recording all future WMUK board meetings. Ideally, this is something an interested volunteer could take on. We have the equipment available to do this, whether as a video or an audio file. If you'd like to be involved please do get in touch, either via my talk page or by dropping me an email. Many thanks. --Stevie Benton (WMUK) (talk) 14:38, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

Does requiring openness demonstrate mistrust?

I was asked this question yesterday, I have strong views on it myself, as our value of openness and transparency sits at the heart of Wikimedia UK's mission, and I would find it really helpful to have views from our members and your expectations of how the board and staff of Wikimedia UK should interpret our value of openness. To some this may sound a little hypothetical, but as a trustee I can assure you that I have been running into several recent problems with judging to what level we implement openness, what must be in-camera and whether access is more equal for some than others (credit:George Orwell ;-) ).

The question I was given was whether asking for a detailed openness showed mistrust. The context was for staff, but I would expect this to apply to trustees and volunteers who will struggle to comply with detailed levels of openness and transparency. There is also a question of the cost of openness, after all if members of our charity insist on access to all staff receipts, then scanning or itemizing everything under a certain level of cost, would introduce a significant administrative burden on our staff and probably demonstrate very little, though we may want to ensure absolutely all receipts are presented for trustees, even down to a tin of cat food.

My reply was to use examples of past criticism against Wikimedia UK because we had failed to be open enough, or to be open in a timely fashion. I believe that if we manage to remain as open as possible, already far, far more open than most charities, then so long as we (staff, trustees, volunteers) can positively admit to mistakes when they occur, understand that there will always be human error, avoid over-personalizing the issues and support each other in getting improvements in place to ensure we limit and learn from our mistakes, then this would be a far greater demonstration of trust in each other; rather than the alternative of collaboratively hiding our mistakes and running the risk of inflaming accusation, conspiracy theories and debates when some of these buried skeletons get uncovered later on. I may well not have the balance right today, so where should we draw the line, and in what areas should we respect the personal judgement of staff, trustees and volunteers to not make some things open (personal privacy, confidential contracts and legal challenges seem obvious exceptions to openness; probably...) and when should we put our collective foot down and insist on full public openness? Thanks -- (talk) 13:32, 23 November 2012 (UTC)

Finance documents

I'd like to announce two new finance documents:

  • Finance Action Plan 2012/13. This is our planned timetable for introducing improvements to our financial controls and procedures in the light of the reports produced this Autumn by UHY, our auditors, and Garfield Byrd, WMF CFO. Please comment on the talk page.

Thanks to Jon, Richard & the board for their help, As Treasurer, Johnbod (talk) 01:23, 25 November 2012 (UTC)

  • Last chance to comment on these - a deafening silence so far! Johnbod (talk) 16:47, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

Migrate this wiki to WMUK hosting?

Hi all. I'd like to throw open the question of whether it would be worth migrating this wiki to WMUK hosting, rather than continuing to be hosted on WMF's servers. I've started setting out the pros and cons of making this change at IT Development/This wiki - please add additional pros and cons to that page, and discuss on the talk page. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 19:12, 25 November 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for the summary above, Mike! My preference would be to host it ourselves. We ought to be able to stand on our own two feet with things like site hosting, as we increasingly have staff/contractors supporting our technology rather than relying on volunteers. The only good reason I can see not to is the issue about the SUL, but I'd prefer to see us set up our own hosting and then work with WMF to find a solution to the SUL problem rather than vice versa. Regards, The Land (talk) 15:25, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

Improving navigation on this wiki

Finding the right page can sometimes be quite difficult on this wiki. Also sometimes there are related pages which have become dormant - but still have some useful ideas on them. I feel it would be good if people used categories so that it would easier to find related material. For example please see [[Category: Volunteer]]. It would also be useful if pages which are no longer part of an ongoing discussion are marked "dormant". Perhaps a template for this would be useful. I would be interested to hear other peoples views on this, as I feel we need some sort of consensus if such categories are to be effective. In the meantime I have started Improving navigation on this wiki to enable specific improvements to be developed.Leutha (talk) 12:57, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Copyright of works by volunteers

Could someone clarify the status of works (such as photographs) made by a volunteer for a Wikimedia UK project (and point to some good quality sources)? My understanding is that even with no agreement or other paperwork in place, the copyright would automatically default to being the property of Wikimedia UK if the volunteer was either clearly donating work to the charity or demonstrably producing the work as part of a project of the charity. I am considering the hypothetical example where a volunteer might have had their travel expenses or a grant to take photographs in a given location, but then expects to keep a selection of the best of their photos under a non-free licence to create commercial income. Currently WMUK accepts that volunteers may want attribution, which seems reasonable, however we may want to tidy up the terms of grants (or the basic expenses policy) to avoid any doubt that all works created as part of a WMUK project need to be released on a CC-BY-SA or even less restrictive licence. Thanks -- (talk) 13:40, 18 December 2012 (UTC)

I would be very surprised to hear that copyright in photos taken by volunteers would belong to WMUK - I'm certain that I retain copyright over the images I have taken at WMUK events over the years. Making it clear that images should be released under a free license where they've been enabled by a grant/reimbursement would make sense, though. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 13:56, 18 December 2012 (UTC)
This IPO page says there needs to be a contract of service (implied or otherwise). No such contract exists for most voluntary roles. --Tango (talk) 15:29, 18 December 2012 (UTC)
I was asking after looking at USA based guidance for the same area where transfer of copyright was considered tacitly or had been verbally agreed on a paid "work for hire". Where the "work for hire" is unpaid, particularly for a charity, then transfer appears to be the norm. However this is only based on my vague browsing, hence asking for views and UK sources. Tango, I believe the IPO source you linked to is on the conventional model of paid work or hire, and the law tends to default to the creator as the copyright owner unless documents can be produced. This may no be so obvious with unpaid (i.e. there never was any expectation of payment) works where there is nevertheless a cost to the charity (such as expenses) and therefore the charity's mission and policies may reasonably be judged to apply even if the agreement is inferred rather than demonstrated by a signed agreement. Should the current proposals for a volunteer agreement be accepted, then there would be no grey area. -- (talk) 16:00, 18 December 2012 (UTC)
I think there's a difference between a volunteer going to an event such as a training workshop as a trainer and happens to take some photographs during the event, and someone being paid expenses specifically to go somewhere to take photographs. In the latter case, I would expect all the photographs to be released under a free license whomever ends up as the copyright holder. KTC (talk) 16:51, 18 December 2012 (UTC)
Please see this, which involves having a Volunteer Code of Conduct. This is precisely the sort of issue which such a code could cover. Leutha (talk) 01:07, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
If the relationship with the volunteer is such that work would be considered to be "for hire", then copyright law is the least of your worries. If they count as working for the charity (even without pay) then the charity presumably has a duty of care to them as it would to an employee, which would be a nightmare (compliance with employment law is not a trivial thing). It's plausible that the charity could be considered to have commissioned the work, but in that case the copyright by default remains with the original author (see the IPO site linked above - I think it's the next page). --Tango (talk) 20:29, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

Emails relating to the Monmouth Memorandum of Understanding of 19 May 2012

In line with the Trustee Code of Conduct, in particular the Nolan Committee Requirements with regard to openness, earlier this week I explained to the board of trustees that I have chosen to make public some of my emails relating to the status of the Monmouth MOU, as it was on the 19th May 2012. There have been no objections. I consider all of my emails in relation to the affairs of the charity on the record, a view I have consistently expressed to my fellow trustees throughout my term as a trustee of Wikimedia UK since my election by the members. You can find my most relevant emails at User:Fæ/emails.

As was explained to our contacts at Monmouthshire County Council on the 19th May, several times, and the board and staff of Wikimedia UK in the days preceding, it was not in a final state but we were signing a provisional version, pending review and agreement to be organized by the Steering Group. As far as I am aware, no later reviewed version was presented to the board of trustees for agreement. Thanks -- (talk) 02:31, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

New copyright legislation - lobbying needed?

It looks like Vince Cable is finally doing something about implementing the en:Hargreaves review. I don't know what involvement WMUK have had in the past with the Hargreaves process, but a new Copyright Act is a major event, and would be the time to lobby BIS to advance the cause of copyright realism. In particular, the BIS press release doesn't mention anything about the status of orphan works, which Hargreaves was keen to clarify and which would be quite useful from our point of view. I know there's some stuff going on at EU level there, but it all helps. One can also see a potential role for Wikisource in the permanent archiving exception. That first link suggests he's looking to get something in law by October, so time is pressing.Le Deluge (talk) 20:30, 20 December 2012 (UTC)