Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2008-09-08/Wikimedia UK

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Wikimedia UK disbands, but may form again

By Ral315, 8 September, 2008

On Thursday, August 28, Wikimedia UK Chair Alison Wheeler announced the dissolution of Wiki Educational Resources, Ltd. (the legal name of Wikimedia's UK chapter), citing problems with respect to their relationship with the Wikimedia Foundation, and issues with the UK banking system, which had made the institution unable to set up necessary bank accounts.

Concerns over Wiki Educational Resources (WER) were brought up in an August 13 e-mail to the WikimediaUK-l mailing list by Delphine Ménard, the Chapters Coordinator of the Wikimedia Foundation. In it, Ménard expressed concern over the delays in getting the organization off the ground, as well as an apparent lack of activity within the chapter, beyond a few core members:

I must say that as we watch all other chapters develop, all at their own pace, but definitely towards active and fruitful organisations, the Wikimedia Foundation is growing a bit concerned about the lack of development of Wikimedia UK. Although no-one in the Foundation is versed in UK law, and although we are sympathetic to all the problems that have been strewn on Wikimedia UK's way, we believe that it is time to really make things happen and push Wikimedia UK forward. ... At this stage, not having a functional Chapter in the UK is a fact that deprives the Wikimedia projects from a very important potential source of support, both financial and in various activities and partnerships. It is not a situation that we can allow to go on for another two years. ... Note that in the case that this "extended" AGM does not happen and/or does not come up with real proposals for solutions, the Wikimedia Foundation will have to reassess the status of WER in its current state as official Wikimedia Chapter, notably to be consistent with the chapters requirements and guidelines, which demand that chapters are supported by a group of active members of the community and not just 4 or 5.

Discussion followed, and some users began to submit applications for membership to the chapter, planning for the AGM. However, Wheeler decided to disband the organization after some thought, and after the immediate resignation of Director and Secretary Arkady Rose. She announced the decision in a post to the list:

As I had previously noted I was not planning on remaining a Director post the AGM and this change in your status now, rather than at the AGM when you [Arkady] had indicated to the Board that you also would not seek re-election, means that I must consider carefully what is in the best interests of both Wiki Educational Resources Ltd and of the future operations of Wikimedia UK.

Since WMUK was founded we have had one problem after another, some with respect to the relationship with WMF, some with the closer to home UK banking system that insists on basing judgements about a Corporation on the personal details of the members of its Board. One delayed us a year, the other all the way until now and with no immediate sight of a resolution.

To date, Wiki Educational Resources Ltd has received little external monies and these have been paid towards the expenses incurred in setting up the Company and carrying out its proper activities. Monies are still owed to various individuals however the Company has no assets to cover them and is, presently, unlikely to have a suitable income stream in the near future to do so.

I have been considering for some time what the best option for the future of WMUK is and, regrettably, I feel that Wiki Educational Resources Ltd, being the present holder of a contract with Wikimedia Foundation Inc for the use of the relevant trademarks, is not likely to be the best long-term holder of that contract in the current situation.

As such, I am proposing with immediate effect that Wiki Educational Resources Ltd be wound up in accordance with Article 8 of the Memorandum of Association and an EGM will be called to that end. The contract with the Wikimedia Foundation Inc will thus fall aside (it is not transferable) and there are not other assets or benefits to distributed or passed on to other organisations. ... Any applications received for membership are hereby declined. Thank you for your interest.

In the wake of its dissolution, many UK-based community members suggested starting the organization anew. A proposal, Wikimedia UK v2.0, has been made on the Meta-Wiki, setting a timetable for its reorganization and soliciting users to run for an initial board. As of press time, 10 candidates had volunteered for membership on the board.

Discussion on the structure of the new organization continues on the mailing list, and on the Wikimedia UK v2.0 talk page.



Also this week:

Wikimedia UK — WikiWorld — News and notes — In the news — Dispatches 1 — Dispatches 2 — Features and admins — Technology report — Arbitration report


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