Submissions:2022/Future of North American Wikimedia affiliates

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This submission has been accepted for WikiConference North America 2022.


Future of North American Wikimedia affiliates


Friday Lightning Talk Day

Type of session:

Lightning Talk


I'll describe briefly some of the administrative aspects of running a Wikimedia affiliate, based on my experience as an officer of Wikimedia DC and consultation with others.

I can list several of the North American affiliates -- chapters especially. These groups are doing a lot substantively on the projects and in partnerships with other organizations who contribute to them or benefit from them.

However our affiliates per se are weak. They have far fewer employees than affiliates on other continents. Sometimes they struggle with some basic responsibilities or they wink in and out of active existence. To me this problem comes about because they are too small. Note by contrast that OpenStreetMap USA has a basic national organization that handles administration, and more staff than all US Wikimedia affiliates together.

The WMF has invited affiliates to propose larger organizations, called Hubs. A Hub might help support many small affiliates, and it might take on a larger multi-year visionary roles such as developing and supporting software, supporting Wikimedians in Residence, holding conferences, and systematically conducting training on a larger scale. A key element would be simply to apply for enough grant funding to sustain our existing user groups, chapters, and partnerships, and keep them out of financial or legal danger.

Affiliates around the world have begun Hub pilot projects, generally funded by WMF grants. We can probably adopt their models to get started experimentally. To do this requires some consensus on what to try, and perhaps a grant application. Likely member/partners would include at least WMNY, WMDC, WCNA, and quite possibly many other

Among many open questions: What geographical scope do we want to try -- US-only? English North America? All North America plus Caribbean? A Hub need not be geographically exclusive, so it is not necessarily in conflict with existing affiliate partnerships organized by language or other interest (Ibericoop, Francophone alliance, Wikisource, user group, Black Lunch Table, LGBT editors, etc.)

What kind of visionary elements should we include? GLAM partnerships? Software development, e.g. related to WikiCite or Commons?

The lightning talk will highlight the issue and some basic facts.

Academic Peer Review option:

Author name:

Peter B Meyer

E-mail address:

Wikimedia username:


Affiliated organization(s):

Wikimedia DC, WikiConference North America

Estimated time:

5 minutes

Special requests:

Will be associated with a longer open discussion which could most naturally be on Sunday

Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?:


If your submission is not accepted, would you be open to presenting your topic in another part of the program? (e.g. lightning talk or unconference session)