Wikimedia UK

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Wikimedia UK
Wikimedia UK logo.svg
Founded November 2008 (2008-11)
Type Educational charity
Registration no. 1144513[1]
Location
Coordinates 51°31′28″N 0°05′04″W / 51.524483°N 0.084477°W / 51.524483; -0.084477Coordinates: 51°31′28″N 0°05′04″W / 51.524483°N 0.084477°W / 51.524483; -0.084477
Area served United Kingdom
Method Public outreach
Members 255 (as of 1 August 2012)[2]
Key people
  • Michael Maggs
    (Chair of the Board)
  • Jon Davies
    (Chief Executive)
Revenue over £1 million
Employees 5
Mission To help people and organisations create and preserve open knowledge, and to help provide easy access for all.
Website wikimedia.org.uk
Formerly called Wiki UK Limited

Wikimedia UK (WMUK) is a registered charity established to support volunteers in the United Kingdom who work on Wikimedia projects such as Wikipedia. As such, it is a Wikimedia chapter approved by the Wikimedia Foundation which owns and hosts those projects.

Wikimedia UK started out as Wiki Educational Resources Limited, but due to financial difficulties and other problems the organization dissolved and was replaced by Wiki UK Limited. After its first attempt to gain charitable status in 2009 failed, the group subsequently made changes to its charter in order to satisfy the charity criteria and was recognized as a charity in 2011. During the same year, WMUK added full-time staff and established a permanent office in London.

The chapter has several collaborations with museums and other institutions and has organised events for volunteers aimed at adding content to Foundation projects. Several of the organization's board members have been involved in controversies related to their contributions to Wikipedia, including claims that the Gibraltarpedia collaboration organised by a trustee was being used for promotional purposes.

The organisation states its mission as being "to help people and organisations create and preserve open knowledge, and to help provide easy access for all".[3]

History[edit]

The first iteration of Wikimedia UK was founded as Wiki Educational Resources Limited (WER) and was incorporated on 14 February 2006 with Alison Wheeler serving as chair of the board and Chief Executive Officer of WER.[4][5][6] WER faced several problems during its time as a chapter organization that included difficulty in its financing efforts and in its relationship with the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF). Its persistent financial difficulties left the organization with debts it was unable to pay and on 28 August 2008 Wheeler announced on the WMUK mailing list that she was planning to call an Extraordinary General Meeting to decide on a proposal to dissolve the group.[7] Wiki Educational Resources formally dissolved on 31 March 2009.[4]

Wiki UK Limited was incorporated as a private no-for-profit company under the Companies act 2006 on 5 November 2008 and, after the WMF terminated recognition of its predecessor, the organization was officially recognized as a chapter in January 2009.[8][9] It applied for official recognition of charitable status to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) the same year, but was denied. The HMRC argued that WMUK's purpose of freely disseminating information through Wikipedia would not qualify as charitable unless it included teaching and education as part of its activities. Andrew Turvey, secretary of the WMUK, responded to the ruling by pledging to seek legal advice before appealing the decision.[10] Following the rejection of its registration-application by the HMRC, Wikimedia UK amended its constitution by adopting new Articles of Association derived from an approved model for charitable status and applied to the Charity Commission for registration as a charity, which was granted in November 2011 once WMUK had met the Commission's minimum income requirement of £5,000.[11] The Charity Commission had initially rejected WMUK's application as an educational charity but ultimately was able with a little help from WMUK's legal advisers to register it as a library-resource charity.[12]

Jimmy Wales gave a public lecture at a celebration of Wikipedia's 10th Anniversary[13] in Bristol, organised by Wikimedia UK and other partners.

A year later, Wikimedia UK hosted the three-day Wikimedia Fundraising Summit in Bristol. Christopher Brown of Bristol 24-7 described this as the first time the group had "hosted an event of this importance to the global movement."[14] The following January, WMUK organised a celebration of the 10th anniversary of Wikipedia's founding at University of Bristol together with other groups such as the Bristol City Council and Bristol Festival of Ideas. Founder Jimmy Wales gave a public lecture at the celebration.[15] During its 2011 annual conference, Wikimedia UK announced its plans to open a permanent office and hire full-time staff within a year.[16]

During its efforts to establish a full-time staff, Wikimedia UK was assisted by several groups and individuals such as the president of Wikimedia Deutschland and prospect-us, a recruitment agency specializing in non-profits, who helped vet candidates for the position of CEO.[17] After introducing the final three CEO candidates to the community at a London "wikimeet" in September, WMUK announced on the 26th of that month that it had chosen Jon Davies, former CEO of Families Need Fathers, for the position.[18]

Wikimedia UK opened a permanent office on the 4th Floor of Development House, in central London on 14 November 2011

In a renewed effort to gain official recognition of charitable status, the board of WMUK had called an EGM to approve amended Objects and related charitable clauses in its Memorandum and Articles of Association pursuant to the advice of their legal team and the Charity Commission.[19] At the meeting, the proposed amendment was passed by a vote of 49 to none.[20] The Commission registered the company as a charity in November 2011, thereby allowing it to claim the Gift Aid tax incentive from HMRC on its donations from UK taxpayers. In its ruling the Commission said that WMUK provided a "public resource" by supporting public access to information through Wikipedia. As it did not serve the charitable purposes specifically outlined in the 2006 Charities Act, the ruling referred to a provision of the act allowing for considerations based on case law. Jonathan Burchfield, a partner from the law firm that represented WMUK in its application, stated that the ruling was unprecedented in charity law. During the proceedings, the group had to prove to the Commission that there were tight controls over Wikipedia content to prevent abuse. Following the ruling, Wikimedia UK stated it would have a fundraising effort aimed at raising a million pounds to support Foundation projects.[12] The chapter opened its new offices in central London on 14 November, changing its registered address from its previous location in Nottingham.[21][22]

At its 2012 annual conference on 12 May, public relations experts gave a presentation on their efforts to collaborate with Wikimedia. Board member Steve Virgin described these efforts to work with the PR industry as "a positive first step" in establishing best practices to address concerns about the industry's work and conflict of interest editing on Wikipedia.[23]

Board of Trustees[edit]

As of December 2013, the Board of Trustees comprises:[24]

Activities[edit]

Wikimedia UK has organised or supported many volunteer efforts to contribute to Foundation projects. One such effort was a month-long competition in February 2010 called "Britain Loves Wikipedia" aimed at increasing the amount of freely licensed images available for use on Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia. Participants photographed exhibits at participating museums in order to win cash and other prizes.[25] WMUK has sponsored similar events since then, as well as "edit-a-thons" in order to generate content for Foundation projects.[26][27][28]

The organization has collaborations with other institutions such as The National Archives and the British Museum with event attendees given tours of the institutions so that content can be added to Wikipedia and its sister sites. Wikimedia UK has also worked with the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry.[29]

Wikimedia UK also operates QRpedia, which uses QR codes in museums, archives and other venues so that people viewing exhibits and collections can instantly see related Wikipedia content on mobile devices, in their preferred language, where available.[16] Rights in QRpedia are owned by Cultural Outreach Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of WMUK. WMUK pledged in 2012 that it would provide support to a six-month program establishing a full-time paid Wikipedian in Residence position at the British Library, the longest-lasting position of its kind.[30] Its efforts have included support for the Monmouthpedia and Gibraltarpedia projects.[23][31][32]

Controversies[edit]

After obtaining charitable status, Wikimedia UK was exposed to controversies that have received international attention.[33]

Chairman resigns[edit]

One such case concerned the group's previous chair, Ashley van Haeften. In July 2012, Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee ruled that he had violated policies regarding use of multiple accounts and had behaved in an uncivil manner when faced with concerns about explicit content. Although the Committee stated that van Haeften had been subjected to harassment, it also found that he had not been separating harassment from legitimate criticism. The case resulted in him being blocked from contributing to the English Wikipedia for an indefinite period.[34] The block was lifted on 12 March 2013.[35]

Despite the results of the case, Wikimedia UK's board supported van Haeften remaining in his position as chair and praised his work with the group. The board's decision was met with criticism from some members of the organization, who proposed an extraordinary general meeting that would discuss removing him from the board. CEO Jon Davies subsequently announced on 2 August 2012 that van Haeften was resigning from his position as chair to avoid creating division within the organization.[36] He retained his position as a board member and remained chair of the Wikimedia Chapters Association. Chris Keating was subsequently elected to replace him as chairman of the board.[37][38]

Gibraltarpedia[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Gibraltarpedia.

Another member of Wikimedia UK's board of trustees, Roger Bamkin, was exposed to controversy in 2012 due to his involvement with Gibraltarpedia. During the month of August, material about Gibraltar appeared on the front page of Wikipedia 17 times in the "Did you know" section as a result of the work on Gibraltarpedia. In several instances Bamkin reviewed these entries and, as he was receiving payment from the government of Gibraltar in connection with his work on Gibraltarpedia, editors raised concerns that the project was using Wikipedia's front page to promote the territory of Gibraltar in exchange for financial compensation.[39][40] Gibraltar's government later stated on 21 September that their contract with Bamkin did not involve him being paid for work on Wikipedia but was limited to providing advice on the QR codes and training volunteers.[41]

Bamkin's involvement with Wikimedia UK as a board member while performing work on the project prompted further concerns about his position with the group. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales stated on 17 September that, if the claims about paid editing were well-founded, it was inappropriate for Bamkin to sit on the board of Wikimedia UK given its charitable status. Wales then suggested he resign from the board of the organization or end his work with the government of Gibraltar.[39][40] On 20 September, Bamkin resigned from the board of Wikimedia UK following a mutual decision by the board supporting the move in response to the concerns about Gibraltarpedia.[42][43]

The level of WMUK's participation was also brought into question regarding the situation with Gibraltarpedia.[40] While the organization does not prohibit paid editing, its support of Bamkin's activities was criticized as potentially inconsistent with its charitable status.[39][44] In a press release following his resignation, the organization stated that it had provided minimal material support for the effort, that Bamkin had disclosed his commercial interests, and that he had not been involved in the group's decisions regarding the project.[43]

Governance review[edit]

In response to the controversy surrounding Gibraltarpedia, the Wikimedia Foundation announced that it was taking control of UK-based donations to the organization and was appointing an independent investigator to inquire into WMUK's governance standards and processes.[45]

The review of WMUK's governance, jointly commissioned by the Wikimedia Foundation and WMUK in October 2012, was carried out by Compass Partnership.[46] The report, released on 7 February 2013, found that the charity's reputation was damaged, and that trustees' conflicts of interest were poorly managed.[47]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Charity framework". Charity Commission for England and Wales. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  2. ^ Symonds, Richard. "Re: [Wikimediauk-l] [WMUK Board] Statement regarding Ashley Van Haeften, Chair of Wikimedia UK". wikimediauk-l mailing list. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "Vision, values and mission". 8 May 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "WIKI EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES LIMITED". Companies House. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "Alison Wheeler - Résumé". Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  6. ^ "User:Alison Wheeler". Wikimedia UK. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "[Wikimediauk-l] Resignation of Arkady Rose". Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  8. ^ "WIKIMEDIA U.K.". Companies House. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  9. ^ "Resolution:Approval of Wikimedia UK". Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  10. ^ Mason, Tania (29 May 2009). "Wikimedia UK denied charitable tax status". Civil Society. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  11. ^ Jump, Paul (5 June 2009). "Wikimedia's UK charity application to be re-examined". Third Sector. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  12. ^ a b Wiggins, Kaye (7 November 2011). "Wikimedia UK granted charity status". Third Sector. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  13. ^ "Bristol - Wikipedia 10". Ten.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  14. ^ Brown, Christopher (7 May 2010). "Bristol plays host to Wikipedia’s global gathering". Bristol 24-7. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  15. ^ Brown, Christopher (13 January 2011). "Wikipedia founder in Bristol to celebrate 10th anniversary". Bristol 24-7. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  16. ^ a b Brian, Matt (20 April 2011). "WikiMedia UK To Hire Full-Time Staff, Aims To Increase Content Quality On Wikipedia". The Next Web. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  17. ^ "Help us choose our Chief Executive". Wikimedia UK. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  18. ^ "Welcoming our new Chief Executive". Wikimedia UK. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  19. ^ "EGM 16th October – Help us become a charity!". Wikimedia UK. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  20. ^ "Wikimedia UK one step closer to charitable status". Wikimedia UK. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  21. ^ Mair, Vibeka (7 November 2011). "Charity Commission approves promoting Wikipedia as a charitable purpose". Civil Society. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  22. ^ "Change of registered office address". OpenCorporates. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  23. ^ a b "PR professionals present at Wikimedia UK AGM". Public Relations Consultants Association. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  24. ^ "Board". Wikimedia UK. Retrieved 2014-05-01. 
  25. ^ "Britain Loves Wikipedia". Wikimedia UK. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  26. ^ "Clock is ticking for scavengers to capture Coventry". Leamington Courier. 1 September 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  27. ^ Koerth-Baker, Maggie (5 September 2012). "Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon at the library of the Royal Society". Boing Boing. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  28. ^ "Wikimedia UK and JISC join forces for World War One editathon". Wikimedia UK. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  29. ^ "Clock is ticking for scavengers to capture Coventry". Leamington Courier. 1 September 2012. 
  30. ^ Geere, Duncan (9 February 2012). "Culture The British Library is looking for a Wikipedian in Residence". Wired UK. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  31. ^ "The world's first Wikipedia City". GBC News. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  32. ^ "Gib to be the world’s first Wikipedia city". Gibraltar Chronicle. 14 July 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  33. ^ McCambridge, Ruth; Aaron (21 September 2012). "Wikipedia UK and Charges of Conflicts of Interest". Nonprofit Quarterly. Retrieved 22 September 2012. 
  34. ^ Williams, Christopher (31 July 2012). "Chairman of Wikipedia charity banned after pornography row". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  35. ^ "Block log - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia". Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  36. ^ Williams, Christopher (2 August 2012). "Wikipedia charity chairman resigns after pornography row". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  37. ^ Young, Niki May (3 August 2012). "Wikimedia UK chair resigns following ban from Wikipedia". Civil Society. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  38. ^ Stothart, Chloe (3 August 2012). "Wikimedia UK chair quits after being banned from editing Wikipedia". Third Sector. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  39. ^ a b c "Jimmy Wales 'disgusted' as trustee accused of editing for profit". Fox News. 19 September 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2012. 
  40. ^ a b c Cross, Grant (19 September 2012). "Wikipedia contributors debate whether it's okay to pay for posts". PCWorld. Retrieved 22 September 2012. 
  41. ^ Reyes, Brian (21 September 2012). "Govt rejects ‘wiki-nobble’ claim". Gibraltar Chronicle. Retrieved 22 September 2012. 
  42. ^ "Board update". Wikimedia UK. Retrieved 22 September 2012. 
  43. ^ a b "Gibraltarpedia: WMUK press release". Wikimedia UK. Retrieved 22 September 2012. 
  44. ^ Orlowski, Andrew (20 September 2012). "Conflict-of-interest scandal could imperil Wikimedia charity status". The Register. Retrieved 22 September 2012. 
  45. ^ Williams, Christopher, "Wikipedia charity faces investigation over trustee 'conflict of interest'", The Telegraph, 2 October 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2012
  46. ^ Niki Hewitt. "Compass Partnership – Management Consultants for Nonprofit Organisations". Retrieved 3 November 2014. 
  47. ^ Young, Niki May (8 February 2013). "Wikimedia UK trustees have been 'too involved' to effectively govern charity". Retrieved 2013-02-09. 

External links[edit]