London meetup

London meetup spurs efforts to start UK Wikimedia chapter

A group of Wikipedians held a meetup in London last week, with an important topic of discussion being the possibility of a UK chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The meetup was held on Saturday afternoon at a central London pub called "The Cock", with a total of 18 people attending. This was the third major Wikipedia meetup in London within the past year, all of which drew roughly twenty or so people, although this was the first London meetup without Jimbo Wales in attendance.

Following up on some recent discussions (see archived story), the group discussed plans to start a local chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation for the United Kingdom. Similar chapters have already been established in Germany and France, and the possibility has been mentioned for a few other countries as well. As David Gerard rather whimsically put it, "Let's go down the pub and start a charity!"

Some preliminary steps have already been taken, as the domain has been registered by James Forrester. VampWillow, who indicated that she has some previous experience with such matters, volunteered to help with the paperwork to get registered as a charity.

Among the things a local chapter could do is organize specific local projects and conduct its own fundraisers. It might also coordinate the placement of Wikimedia servers for the area it covers. With respect to tax deductibility of donations, Gerard was fairly confident that charitable status would provide this benefit at least for England and Wales, and "probably" also for Scotland and Northern Ireland (note: Gerard undoubtedly was not trying to provide legal or tax advice, and this reporter isn't either).

One concern that has been raised in connection with local chapters is that they might be misused for a nationalist agenda. Addressing this issue after the meetup, Jimbo Wales issued a reminder on Monday that it is important "to make sure that chapter organizers understand that they are not taking control of a particular language wikipedia." He reiterated that "All chapters are expected to support the *global* goals of the foundation."

The possibility of eventually starting a US chapter was renewed last Friday by Daniel Mayer, who said he had registered the domain for that purpose. Although the main Wikimedia Foundation has its headquarters in the United States, a local chapter could still be set up there as well, since the international organization is not focused specifically on the US.

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There's a London pub called the Cock? Alrighty then! - Ta bu shi da yu 07:34, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)


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