Wikimedia UK v2.0/Candidate FAQs

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The following are answers to questions asked in relation to the election of the first Board of Wikimedia Uk v2.0.

Why do Board candidates have to be over 18?

Board members of Wikimedia UK will legally be Director and Trustees of the organisation. Section 157 of the Companies Act 2006 requires Directors to be at least 16. UK charities law specifically states that a person under 18 cannot be a trustee of a charitable trust or an unincorporated charitable organisation. Under 18s can, however, be directors of a charitable company as long as the person understands their duties and responsibilities. The Charity Commission has the power to intervene in the running of any charity if they have any cause for concern regarding the mismanagement of a charity or risk to the assets of charity. Although the Charity Commission has accepted under 18 directors in the past (see here), it only did so in this case because there was a restriction on the number of under-18 directors.

The community consensus for the election of the initial Board was that it should be restricted to over 18s, but this issue will be re-considered for subsquent Boards.

We welcome the participation of all interested editors, and hope those under 18 can contribute in other ways.

Why do Board candidates have to sign the declarations?

Board members of Wikimedia UK will legally be Director and Trustees of the organisation. Directors and Trustees have to comply with the legal requirements of the Charities Acts and the Companies Acts. Directors may not be disqualified or undischarged bankrupts. Charity Trustees may not be any of this list. Signing the declaration gives the members the assurance that these requirements are being met.

Why are Board members required to accept a Criminal Records Bureau check?

From October 2009 [1], under UK Child Protection law (specifically the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006), it is a criminal offense for an organisation to take on someone - even on an unpaid basis - for a "regulated or controlled activity" without vetting them. The person performing a regulated activity also commits an offense if they are not registered. Before October 2009 a similar scheme applies.

One of the proposals for future activity of Wikimedia UK is to promote wikimedia projects in schools and this is likely to involve "frequent" (defined as once per month or more) contact with under-18s in schools - a regulated activity. Therefore everyone involved in these projects will have to be pre-vetted.

If a charity is one where "the individuals who are workers for the charity normally include individuals engaging in regulated activity relating to children" then as long as the purposes are not "merely incidental to the purposes for which the charity is established" then the charity is deemed to be a "children's charity". In this case all charity trustees will also be performing a "regulated activity" and will therefore require pre-vetting. (SVGA Sch 4 1(9), 4(1)(g), 4(4) and 4(5)) Therefore, if Wikimedia UK decides to do these projects in schools it may first have to pre-vet all trustees as well as all people working in the project.

In addition, Wikimedia UK intends to accept membership applications from under-18s. This will give the Membership Secretary access to names, contact details and other personal information of under-18s. Although this does not appear to be a regulated or controlled activity, Wikimedia UK may decide to require the officer doing this position to be pre-vetted.

Why is the initial Board to consist of only five members?

The main focus of the initial Board is to get the organisation established and registered before handing over to a larger elected Board which will run the organisation. A smaller Board is beneficial in the early stages as it helps with certain approvals especially Bank Account opening. The intention is that subsequent Boards will be larger.

What are the election rules?

See also: Wikimedia UK v2.0/Vote

The election will be by secret ballot using the approval voting method. The electors will be all editors who have listed themselves as "guarantor members" or "supporters". The election will be run by an election committee made up of geni, and Andrew Whitworth, a member of ChapCom. They will be responsible for:

  • Accepting candidates and determining whether they meet the criteria
  • Compiling the list of voters
  • Deciding on the process of voting
  • Sending out ballot papers
  • Receiving back votes
  • Counting votes
  • Publishing the results
  • Any other ancillary actions they deem necessary to run the election

The criteria for candidates is that they sign and agree the Declaration. As an exception to this, community consensus from the email list is that candidates unwilling to sign the statement regarding CRB checks will not be disqualified.

Anyone signed up as being interested in being a Guarantor member or supporter by 19 September (23:59) can vote. The only exception would be if it becomes apparent that people with no interest in the chapter were signing up in order to manipulate the election.

Voters will be asked to vote "Yes" or "No" for each candidate. The five candidates who receive the highest number of "Yes" votes will be announced (except if a candidate receives more "Nos" than "Yes"es, then they will not be elected). They will then be asked to confirm that they are still willing to set up wikimedia UK. If more than two withdraw then the candidate with the next largest number of votes will be added to the board.

Voters will vote by sending emails to User:UK voting account using the email this user function.

Why are we hoping to set up a UK Chapter?

To do the kind of things other chapters do. Raise money for wikipedia projects and use of the trademarks to open doors.

Why do we intend to register the UK Chapter as a Charity?

Registering the Chapter as an has several key advantages including that UK taxpayers can donate tax-free and that organisations such as universities are likely to allow us to hire facilities at less than commercial rates.

Being a charity prevents us from certain political and campaigning activities and requires us to have wholly charitable purposes for the public benefit. We don't consider either of these restrictions to be inconsistent with our aims.

If we set ourselves up as a charity we are obliged to register once our income exceeds £5,000. Before then we may apply for voluntary registration but the Charity Commission has the discretion to accept us or not.

Why have we decided to use a Company Limited by Guarantee structure for the Chapter?

English Charities can be established in three forms:

The main advantage of the last option over the other two is that it provides the members with in the event of a dispute with a third party; the main disadvantage is the additional expense associated with registering with Companies House and preparing annual statutory accounts that comply with the SORP, which are expected to cost £500 - £1,000 per year. Given the plans for Wikimania 2010 in Oxford this expense is considered to be worthwhile.

A new form of Charitable Incorporated Organisation has passed into law but as of September 2008 is not yet operational. We have decided not to wait until this is available.

What will be the main tasks for the interim Board?

The main tasks of the interim Board are set out in the Timeline. In essense it is to establish the organisation within the first six months and then hand over to a fully operational Board. The main tasks are:

  • Agree constitutional documents
  • Register at Companies House
  • Obtain tax free status
  • Obtain Wikimedia Foundation chapter status
  • Open a bank account
  • Process membership applications and donations
  • Organise the first Annual General Meeting