News and notes
Independent review of UK chapter governance; editor files motion against Wikitravel owners
Independent review of WMUK governance and COI
Following considerable online and media reportage on the Gibraltar controversy and a Signpost report last week, the Wikimedia UK chapter and the foundation published a joint statement on September 28: "To better understand the facts and details of these allegations and to ensure that governance arrangements [are] commensurate with the standing of the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikimedia UK and the worldwide Wikimedia movement, Wikimedia UK’s trustees and the Wikimedia Foundation will jointly appoint an independent expert advisor to objectively review both Wikimedia UK’s governance arrangements and its handling of the conflict of interest."
Central to the debate have been Roger Bamkin's three simultaneous roles as English Wikipedia editor, WMUK trustee, and paid consultant for the innovative public projects MonmouthpediA, and more recently GibraltarpediA – projects that may have far-reaching benefits for the WMF movement, enabling on-the-spot access through mobile technology to the foundation's stored knowledge of locations of interest such as historical houses and monuments. The key to the innovation is the application of QRpedia QR code plaques (co-developed by Roger), which are installed at sites of interest under a trademark agreement with the foundation.
Roger declared his paid consultancy for Monmothpedia, in both his blog and candidature statements; nevertheless he was re-elected by the chapter's in May 2012 in the knowledge of his roles. He offered his resignation at least twice to the WMUK board to resign in relation to those declared conflicts. Questions related to English Wikipedia guidelines, especially those governing DYK, fall under the competence of the community and therefore will not be part of the review conducted by the advisor.
The organisations agreed that the WMF will take care of fundraising technicalities (processing) in the UK during the upcoming annual global fundraiser towards the end of the year. Under the new financial structure, this move has no direct consequences for the chapter's planned budget for the next fiscal year or for its five-year plan, and WMUK can apply for FDC funding. Thomas Dalton, the chapter's former treasurer, said this should be seen as an opportunity to broaden the chapter's financial basis and to become more financially independent of the WMF's annual campaign.
Editor files motion to strike Internet Brands' lawsuit
Three weeks ago, the Signpost reported
that Ryan Holliday and James Heilman, both English Wikipedia and ex-Wikitravel.org volunteer editors, have been sued by Internet Brands, the owner of the Wikitravel
trademark. The lawsuit, among other things, alleges that Holliday and Heilman engaged in a civil conspiracy, as a result of which the editors "have been unjustly enriched and Internet Brands has been injured and damaged".
With the support of Cooley LLP, the WMF's attorneys, Holliday filed a motion on 26 September to variously strike and dismiss IB's complaints, asking for costs to be awarded against IB. The motion describes the original lawsuit as "a meritless action brought not to win, but to intimidate, threaten, and ultimately silence persons engaged in speech that IB dislikes but the Constitution protects." The motion contains 23 pages of legal argument, in which more than 40 US court judgements are cited. The motion sets out why IB cannot in this instance make prima facie cases of common-law trademark infringement, unfair competition, or civil conspiracy; and it accuses the plaintiff, among other things, of stifling debate, of cherry-picking email texts in its lawsuit in a way that distorts their meanings, and of "bluster".
Holliday had already filed papers the week before to transfer the IB lawsuit from the LA County Superior Court to the federal US District Court for the Central District of California. The motion will be heard on 5 November by Judge Stephen V. Wilson. The trial date for the original lawsuit has not yet been set. The Signpost understands that proceedings would, if it became necessary, relate also to the interests of Heilman, the other named defendant in IB's lawsuit.
Kelly Kay, the foundation's deputy counsel, said "We fully agree with Ryan’s position, and we hope his motion is successful. We think community volunteers like Ryan deserve our thanks, not meritless lawsuits."
What to name the new WMF travel site
The Wikivoyage site is the result of a fork from Wikitravel.org by German-speakers in 2006, later joined by Italian-speakers. Wikivoyage is set to migrate to the WMF's new travel project, and in anticipation has just added English and Dutch versions to its international coverage.
Since April 2012, the Wikimedia community has been discussing
whether to set up a travel guide "sister" project. After the WMF board approved a formal proposal through an RfC last month
, preparations have begun on Meta. Discussion is under way to settle the naming question
. After a short initial straw poll
established a need for wider consultation, the WMF designed a procedure
to ensure open debate without making the process potentially subject to cybersquatting
The community can vote on proposals that have been submitted according to proper process between 07:00 UTC October 2–16 to determine the name.
- English Wikipedia notes:
- Arbitration report: The date delinking clarification request and Psychotherapies request for arbitration remain open from last week. There are also two new requests for arbitration: Professionalism and civility, stemming from an uncivil email exchange between two editors, and Protection reversion, concerning the indefinite protection of a user talk page and its subsequent removal.
- Arbitration Committee election preparations: An all-encompassing Request for Comment (RfC) concerning the upcoming Arbcom election has been launched by MuZemike. The issues concern the composition of the committee, the election itself, and the minimum support percentage required at the end of the election.
- Education Program restructure: An RfC has been opened to decide on if a new thematic organization should continue the work of the United States and Canada Education Programs.
- Pending changes policy: The second in a series of informal requests for comment on pending changes has been opened at WP:PC2012/RfC 2. This RfC seeks to establish the reasons for which PC may applied to pages and the criteria reviewers may use in rejecting edits, as well as to answer several questions regarding automatic acceptance of edits and to determine the speed at which PC should be implemented.
- Quarterly Update issued: the quarterly update, compiling the last three months of various modifications and alterations made to content policy pages, is complete.
- FDC applications: Applications for the inaugural round of funding from the Funds Dissemination Committee closed on 1 October. All applications can be reviewed openly on Meta. Community comments and queries are welcome on the talk pages. Applications have been received from the WMF, Argentina, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, the Philippines, Sweden, Hungary, and the UK. In related news, the WMF board passed a resolution appointing the FDC's members, following the announcement on Meta last month.
- California Digital Open Source Library established: On 27 September, the governor of California signed two bills to establish the California Digital Open Source Library and approve a project for the creation of 50 open-source digital textbooks under Creative Commons license.
- Ukrainian Wikipedia protest: The Ukrainian Wikipedia is now carrying a banner to protest a proposed law named "On Amendments to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine on toughening punishments for the infringement of the honor, dignity and business reputation of a person" (translated from Ukrainian). Their English statement notes that the banner will remain until the bill is rejected, and they "reserve the right" to transition this to a full blackout if the law moves closer to passing.
- Toolserver funding: Debates over the status and funding of the Wikimedia Toolserver intensified last week as part of the review of the German chapter's annual plan review for 2013 on Meta. This week's tech report covers the issues in detail.