Comentaris al document «La cultura del compartir» de Wikimedia-Alemanya

De Amical Wikimedia
Dreceres ràpides: navegació, cerca

Wikimedia Deutschland, has produced a document that from the issue of fundraising brings to the table a set of principles and values and also deals with the issue of the organizational model of the Wikimedia movement. This document is done from the experience of what it is now perhaps one of the Wikimedia "local" chapters most consolidated active and successful in their actions. Is for these reasons (revenue model, organizational model, principles and values, strength of the authoring organization) that it is well worth taking into account the considerations and compare it with our own experience and understanding of the movement. We do not want to downplay that other contributions made later (uk-WM, WM-it, Iberocoop), while we were already working on this document. But we believe that the document of German colleagues can be a good starting point for our contribution.

Principles and values[modifica]

Throughout the document there is a series of ideological principles that underlie the arguments and proposals for action that have been organized on 6 points:

  1. Diversity, solidarity and democratic values as giving political legitimacy to organizations.
  2. Subsidiary (any issue must be resolved in the instance closest to it) as organizational principle.
  3. Horizontal cooperation, mutual support and self-government prioritized over the vertical forms of organization and also as a way to control possible imbalances between regional or local organizations.
  4. Local initiative and independence as the best way to have a view context-sensitive and thus meet the local cultural challenges, to be effective and to ensure empathy.
  5. Shared responsibility as a basis for sharing the money, experience and success.
  6. Understanding of the needs and wishes of donors by establishing a close relationship of trust and ensuring transparency and rigor in economic management.

We share these values and principles, but it is important that the organizational model be consistent with them and thats why we need to get some concepts that seem above-understood in the document.

Principles governing fundraising[modifica]

According to the editors of the document with regard to raising funds it is needed:

  • To know what the donors want and expect
  • Establish and maintain with them a relationship of trust

They argue that this can be done better from a "local" organization near to donors able to:

  • Take into consideration the local cultural and social peculiarities
  • Make donation easier
  • Having the status of tax exempt entity and provide receipts for donations
  • Provide easy contact channels and quickly resolve incidents
  • Make visible the impact of funds raised
  • Maintain a lasting relationship of trust

Wikipedia-Deutschald does these abstract considerations from the successful experience of at least two years of putting it into practice. That's why they see that a return to a centralized model threatens what they have achieved and are strongly positioned to:

  • A decentralized fundraising (or at least optional)
  • A model of dissemination of funds (that palliate imbalances and the digital divide)

They suggest some principles that should govern the protocols of the fundraising organization:

  1. The fundraising is not an end in itself, is a means to achieve a goal
  2. Each chapter should focus on developing and implementing programs and projects to support the common global goals with local means
  3. To do this the chapters will receive sufficient funds from the WMF and / or other chapters
  4. With bigger programs and projects the need for financial accountability increases, making it necessary to build up local expertise and to implement solid standards regarding the handling of larger funds.
  5. Based on the above principles and decisions of the local community chapters can choose between two options:
  6. Continue to receive grants from WMF based on the proposed programs or activities
  7. Perform fundraising locally given the local market of donations, financial and legal requirements, while preserving the general interest of the movement.

In general we also share these principles, arguments and proposals of protocols to follow.

To ensure compliance with these standards, the authors consider a common entity is needed to protect and safeguard the overall movement. They propose that this organ bes the Chapters Council [1]. Here we disagree. On the one hand because as currently proposed the Council would represent a single model of organization of the movement, only the type local based on administrative boundaries. There have not place organizations created based on sectoral or non regional affinities. Neither there is room for organizations on a territorial base that do not meet the administrative boundaries that meet a country or other administrative boundaries. On the other hand just because a body formed by organizations with legal entity of the movement (although they were not only local-state) does not provide adequate participation of community projects-wiki editors, configured from the language and the purpose of developing a specific piece of knowledge.

Different realities, different situations, the same challenge[modifica]

Wikimedia Deuschland has presented his paper from a particular sociolinguistic situation, chapter development and development of Wikipedia in German.

The challenge facing the German Wikipedia is exactly the same as the Catalan Wikipedia: Pick an encyclopedia on all human knowledge. The ultimate goal is the same, so the two projects should achieve a similar level of development.

But our situation is very different.

Sociolinguistic situation[modifica]

German is the official language in several European countries and is spoken by 90 million people. There are schools and universities teaching in German and it has been since long.

The Catalan is official only in Andorra, in the other Catalan-speaking areas the offial lenguage is not Catalan and it has only some level of recognition depending on each territory. It Is spoken by 11,5 Milion people but ony 60% can write it. All Catalans are at least bilingual. Catalan has been banned in schools until recently and we find that retirees are an important source of Wikipedians have difficulty writing Catalan. Even today in many Catalan-speaking areas most schools don't teach in Catalan and it is mixed with other languages in the universities.

Level of development of Wikipedia[modifica]

There are a number of indicators that clearly show that the level of development of the Catalan Wikipedia is far from the German Wikipedia. So no need to go into details, while the German Wikipedia has more than one million articles the Catalan one has only 350,000 and while the depth in German Wikipedia is 89 in Catalan it is only 20.

But there are others that are not so apparent and worth mentioning. The number of pages served from the German Wikipedia is more than 1000 million a month while at the Catalan Wikipedia it is under 30 million. This difference is due not only to the difference in population and content. A large part is due because the readers come to Wikipedia through Google. When you serarch a theme in German from Germany Google presents first teh results from German Wikipedia while when searching a subject in Catalan from the Catalan spekin territories Google presents firts the results in English first and thenin French, Italian and Spanish. Only at the end in Catalan even when the catalan word is quite different Google translates it ang gives you the results in other languages.

Chapter developement[modifica]

The German chapter was established in 2003 and has grown steadily to over 1000 members. Currently has a budget of 2.7 millions, it has 24 employees, it is entitled by the WM Foundation to use its names and trademarks, is authorized to obtain incomes by selling merchadasing and process all fundraising payments in Germany from all projects and from all languages including Catalan.

The Catalan association was established in 2008, it is growing slowly, now it has 61 members, the budget for 2011 was € 48,000, the WMF recognizes us and helps us informally but we have no formal recognition. On 2011 we received a grant from WMF of 3.150€. We are not entitled to sell merchandising to obtain financing. We asked to process payments in fundraising campaign and WMF replied saying that since we are not formally recognized they can not sign this contract with us.


Given these situations so different and because the end result should be obviously the same strategies and tactics to achieve it may not be the same in any way.

Like Wikimedia Germany has made its strategic plan and its action plans, we have also made a strategic analysis, as far as we can we carry out actions in the strategic line that will allow us to achieve our goal.

We have very clear that Wikimedia Germany, with its strategic plan and actions is not able to promote the Catalan Wikipedia intill it reach a level of development comparable to the German Wikipedia. Therefore, any activity that German Chapter may do to develop Catalan Wikipedia and sister projects in Catalan is welcome, but we can not leave in their hands of the development of our projects.

In this sense the same we say of German chapter we say of any other chapter that is not devoted primarily to develop projects in Catalan.

Our situation is weak and the challenge is big, We would appreciate if they help us, but we can not rely on the help of others, what we need is that they leave us that we help ourselves with the same tools that everyone else has.

The experience of Amical Wikipedia[modifica]

Modestly and without wanting to equate us to Wikimedia Deutschland, we share many features of their experience regarding the regional presence and relationships with local actors.

Our detailed explanation and repot of activities can be found here: Amical Viquipèdia.

Self-directed connectivity[modifica]

The self-directed connectivity is defined[1] as an organizing principle of the Internet that makes possible the ability of anyone to find their destination in the network and, if not found, to create and publish their own information creating a new node or a new network.

Wikipedia is, in its creation, a good example of self-directed connectivity and is also a great example of what continues to make it possible. As a community project that creates a common platform is an enrollment where many people find their place, find a job that meets their interests and abilities. The project is then is built from grassroots from the confluence of different interests and abilities but with a common purpose.

Amical Wikipedia is also at associative level, an example of self-directed connectivity, the Wikipedians and persons related to the movement of open knowledge have created or found the kind of organization that fits their way of seeing things and how they want to associate with each other, together have defined its scope both geographic and thematic or sectorial.

This capability that internet makes it possible should also be made possible in the Wikimedia movement. The wikimedians should be able to create grassroots and to define their scope. Organizational models should diversify, should be flexible and have several possible solutions for some common purposes. This is consistent with some of the principles that were outlined above, such as diversity, selfgovernment, local initiative, subsidiarity and sensitivity to context.

The administrative area[modifica]

For various reasons that are outlined in this and other documents the relationship with government and political institutions is important for the extension, implementation and decentralization of the movement. Just to remember some:

  • Having a legal entity with the capacity to act in the local administrative context
  • Ability to sign agreements with both local authorities and other local entities.
  • Possibility of obtaining exemptions and tax deductions
  • To exercise legal defense in case of dispute or complaint
  • The ability to take the legislative initiative to promote legal changes in favor of free knowledge or to preserve and defend it against legislative proposals that endanger it.

That is why the drivers and members of Wikimedian organizations (both local and sectoral) must face and find a solution regarding the scope of administrative action.

Organizations that have a local or territorial area of priority action should describe the administrative area or areas where they act and take the best legal solution that makes possible its activities. Should take into account the laws and regulations of municipal, supra municipality, regional / federal, national and / or supranational that affect them.

In many cases administrative boundaries of a country may be suitable, as they have been for existing chapters. But in not other cases.

Organizations defining their geographic scope in several countries must take into account the agreements between these countries regarding entities acting on their territory, as well as possible supra country legal context that includes them.


Adopting as in practice has already been done, a national perspective for organizations has two characteristics with respect to the overlaping:

  •    Avoid geographical overlapping
  •     Generates Language overlaping.

So that in each country there can be only one organization while for the languages ​​spoken in more than one country there are several organizations simultaneously.

Adopt other perspectives such as linguistics, cultural or sector can avoid some overlapping but generating others. The overlap may not be seen as something negative. There are other international organizations where it happens [explain example of anthropologists EXAMPLE IN ANOTHER DOCUMENT?]. Adopting the principle of respecting local initiative and the creation of grassroots organizations that define their own territory for action, may imply that there are overlaps between them.

Overlapings are a redundancy that makes the systems robust and althought they generate a complexity that has to be solved.

In a system without overlaps shall require that each branch is capable of channeling all the flow that must go through the nodes it connects because there are not parallel path [5]

In systems with overlaping each flow loop can be solved by various ways and thre is a need to decide trough which of them will go. In our case we need to resolve wich organization will handle each initiative, necessity, opportunity. This situation occurs actually in the chapters based on countries that share one or more languages. There is the need to resolve those activities that overlap by language: brochures, educational materials, media relations, relations with the editing community ...

In the case of a complex system where different perspectives merge (geographic, linguistic, sector ...) from organizational initiative grassroot generated, the thrust can be given in both languages, as in administrative borders and frames of action. To manage these thrusts there are:

  •     Deterministic systems that decide a uniquely path for each flow.
  •     Random redundant systems where who can take the work goes ahead. [6]

Wikipedia is an example of random redundant system. Every day there are many people editing the same project and some of them the same article. The first who hit "Save" is takes the job. A deterministic system would require that you first determine what and who publishes to guarantee thet every that is written is something that we all agree. In practice most of the time there is no conflict and no one has any objection to the content you've added. Only when there are discrepancies we need mechanisms of resolution.

To resolve the overlaping we need mechanisms that meet the principles above, but that does not impose a bureaucracy but only is put into operation in case of real conflict in practice, not in front of hypothetical conflict prevention. Those mechanisms are already needed now with the thrust produced by the country based chapters and we don-t have them.

In any case the issues of overlap, where given, should be resolved on the principles of solidarity (1), cooperation and mutual support (3) and shared responsibility (5) looking for synergy and better way to address the local context. This could be formalized through agreements or protocols between bi or multi-lateral organizations involved. The experience from several cases and situations that would make possible a series of models will be defined in agreements that were available to the new movement organizations.

What do we mean by "local" and the principle of subsidiarity[modifica]

The document of Wikimedia Deutschland, appeals to the principle of subsidiarity to bring down some functions from the bodies of WMF to the local chapters, specifically the ability to raise and manage funds. What is not clear in the document is how far this principle can go. If applied properly, we must consider that a hypothetical wikimedian organization consolidated in Rhineland-Westphalia could better fulfill the role then Wikimedia Deutschland. Or a well established organization in Bonn would do better than that of Rhineland-Westphalia.

Principle of subsidiarity well applied to Wikimedia movement implies evaluate the local implementation of the organization, its relationship with local agents and their ability to have an adequate sensitivity to context. In addition, of course, his ability as an organization to perform the function.

In practice and in the current movement situation, subsidiarity has the danger of stopping at the country level. The chapters are, with few exceptions, national organizations and consolidates its own model by not accepting other solutions. It doesn't has the breadth of vision to see that other organizational models are also feasible and can successfully fulfill the tasks that a Wikimedian organization can develop.

The characteristics of the countries in the world with regard to geography, population and management models is very diverse. So are its dimensions and its continuity or fragmentation terriorial or geographic. In documents of the Wikimedia movement we can not continue to use terms such as local or geographic as an euphemism for national. This does nothing but pollute the debate. A geographical perspective, local or regional need not always coincide with administrative boundaries of a state. In some other cases can correspond to administrative boundaries (sub-or supra). And in some cases may not coincide with administrative boundaries (the geographic range can be given by geographical or cultural characteristics instead of political ones).

The creation of a local organization with opportunities to be able to implement the functions described very accurately by Wikimedia Deutschland, for consistency, should be conditioned to the reality of its context and its scope should be defined by their own promoters, respecting the principle (4) local initiative and independence.

Moreover, it should be possible to create wikimedian organizations not responding to a regional perspective but cultural, linguistic, sectoral or thematic (Esperanto, Latin, Arabic, Blind, ...). And these organizations should be able to be accepted, formalized its relationship with the movement and be present in decision-making bodies.

The role of communities of editors[modifica]

The document of Wikimedia Deutschland, gives a great importance to the proximity of a possible fundraising organization with donors, with what they want and expect to be done with their contributions. The donors not only feel concerned by where they live, they are also by the Wikimedia projects or project in which they want to participate or support the principles of free and open knowledge to whom they involved. The proximity is therefore not only geographical, is also linguistic and cultural thematic.

The base of the Wikimedia projects are communities of editors. The fact they have autonomy to set their own standards and working solutions is key to the success of the project. The government of the movement can not pass into the hands of local organizations or other legal entities excluding the exploration of mechanisms for community participation. The number of editors is extremely high compared to the number of members, nothing suggests that this will change. But also the frame of affinity that involves participation in a community project is also a framework for deliberation and decision making that can not be substituted for a conventional association framework.

We must therefore find ways of involving communities in both organs and in decision-making in the movement. This should also involve Wikimedia organizations that should articulate ways of reporting, accountability and provide ways of community participation in defining their lines of action.

As for the fundraising project communities should be able to decide what entity will fundraise and how the money raised will be used. In this way is the proposal made by Amical in the debate on the funding [LINK HERE] and has received significant community support from the Catalan Wikipedia [1].

In the document of Wikimedia Deutschland we miss this perspective that complements the local perspective, regarding the issue of trust and attention to the wishes of donors. But we believe the issue goes beyond fundraising and involves the participation of people in decision making, policies and movement governing.
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