Thinking about chapters and WIGs

So, since at least the chapters meeting in April, and especially at Wikimania, I have been Thinking about Chapters. What is a chapter, what should a chapter do, how should it operate, all that fun stuff. What I realised during my chapters panel is that we for one thing, we have a dearth of terminology. So here are some modest steps towards clearer definitions.

A Wikimedia interest group (WIG) — any group, with a common characteristic or theme, that aims to further the Wikimedia mission.

Now, borrowing the idea of features from linguistics, we can start to map out some identifiable WIGs.

Features are also typically arranged into sets of features. The first set should be geographic.

V W R C S

V: Virtual
W: Whole world
R: Region covering multiple nations
C: Country
S: (Sub-national) region

So typically a WIG would only have one of these features… so possibly they are all a single feature? Normally features are binary.

Another set of features could be scope of interest.

P L T

P: Project (a single project, such as Wikibooks)
L: Language
T: Theme (e.g. linguistics)

A third set of features could be characteristics, or functions. My initial guess is that these are only relevant for non-virtual WIGs.

LB F M O P L

LB: Legal body
F: Performs fundraising
M: Organises meet-ups or community-oriented events
O: Performs outreach events
P: Partners with other organisations or groups
L: Performs political lobbying

So a typical national chapter, would look like this:

Geographic 
V W R C S
- - - + -
Interest
P L T
- - - 

(This means, rather than being focused on a single project, language or theme, they are at least nominally interested in all/many of them. While in practice some countries tend towards monolingualism, so it may appear that some chapters are focused on a single language. But that is generally not an explicit part of their being.)

Functions
LB F M O P L
 + + + + + +

So these sets of features are not independent… a value in the geographic features will have implications for the other sets. But that is OK I think.

A typical mailing list/project community (say, French Wikibooks) could also be defined thus:

Geographic 
V W R C S
+ - - - -
Interest
P L T
+ + - 
Functions
LB F M O P L
 - - - - - -

So… what features am I missing so far? Have I listed any that are redundant? I’m sure I’m not thinking enough outside the box just yet.

14 September, 2009 • ,

Comment

1

Thank yu for the reports on BA, and for this one. When I asked you for a few words on ‘looking forward’ I knew you’d help me get some of my thinking straight.

It’s this idea of thinking in terms of (local and) global (peer) groups which seem to have us stumped – language, geo, interest and function seems about right. Let’s keep in mind WMF’s mission can be said of any domain with an .edu on the end; a wiki, irc and email lists alone being a limited set of functions we can’t help but thinking are limitations.

If you compare your thinking to the wikieducator community (on google groups), you’ll see they have worked to formulate a policy (and divisions) for their groups as well, as have so many (tool centric) others. That’s the problem of course. There’s no way forward unless we think past all the possible collaborative tools (functions) , and think more in terms of how to bring interest groups (chapters being an interchangeble term) to a common communication hub so they can sort out their preferred combination of functions. (catch 22)

Wikipedia has always been a lesson in governance (to me). The latest attempt at devising a strategy just reinforces how inclusive its (wiki centric) community tries to be. ‘Thinking outside the box’ demands we consider which boxes might complement one another. To move forward, it’s the communication between them we must strive to improve; ‘engage and disseminate’ to use the WMF lingo.

You might want to consider why Tim Starling has said we should have an online forum, and most everyone hates the foundation email list, and why whirlpool and sitepoint are successful. Its because most people need to comfortable place to get to know others and get orientated, before they go off to (are pointed at) more specific areas of interest. Until we have a place like this Eugene is going to rely on people (bilingualists) like you in each geo to do the work, while he gets orientated.

And ultimately, little can happen until the WMF decides on who can vote and how. Thanks again.

simonfj · 4. October 2009, 07:22

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