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German chapter remodeled to meet Foundation requirements, and more

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By Resident Mario, Jean-Frédéric and Tilman Bayer

German chapter creates new body to meet Foundation's fundraising requirements

Last week, it was revealed that the German Wikimedia chapter is creating a new limited-liability non-profit corporation (in German, gemeinnützige Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung, or gGmbH) to replace the existing membership-based association (Verein) as the recipient of donations from Wikimedia fundraisers. This will enable the direct transfer of donation money to the Foundation, which has so far been impossible due to local charity laws.

Founded in 2004, Wikimedia Deutschland is the oldest Wikimedia chapter. Its legal status does not allow it to transfer funds to an organization abroad without risking the loss of its charity status (this problem already became apparent in its first year, according to a long-time member). To some extent, this restriction was overcome by the chapter's providing funding for several endeavors of Foundation-wide relevance, including the Wikimedia Toolserver, the cache-server cluster in Amsterdam, and gatherings such as the 2009 and 2010 Wikimedia Conferences in Berlin. According to notafish, other chapters (including Wikimedia France) are currently grappling with similar narrowly framed regulations in their own jurisdictions.

The new gGmbH non-profit corporation, called "Wikimedia Fördergesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung", will be entirely controlled by the membership-based Verein, and will split fundraising income equally between the Verein and the Foundation. Donations to the gGmbH will be tax-deductible for German donors, unlike direct donations to the Foundation. Last week's announcement was made by the chapter's treasurer, prompted by and confirming a rumor that had been brought up on the Verein's mailing list. It appears to have caught most members by surprise; many expressed concern that they had not been informed earlier, even though the process of establishing the new organization had been going on since August. The treasurer explained it had been necessary to act quickly, without extended public discussion, because of the Foundation's position on fundraising since this year:

Without the gGmbH [structure] we will receive virtually nothing in this year's fundraiser; seeing that, the Verein [Wikimedia Deutschland] could then only resolve its own disbanding.

The current solution was negotiated between the Foundation and the Verein in early August during a visit to San Francisco by Wikimedia Deutschland's CEO Pavel Richter and its Chair, Sebastian Moleski (User:Sebmol). Sebmol has acknowledged that the Foundation's new focus on "community giving" (small donations as the main source of income, rather than grants and few large donations), an outcome of the Strategic Planning process, means that it will need to rely on chapters more, and that a direct revenue stream is important to retaining the Foundation's independence. According to the WMF's deputy director Erik Möller, the fundraising aspect of the relationship between the Foundation and the chapters was discussed extensively at a fundraising summit held last May in Bristol, UK.

These negotiations between the Foundation and the German chapter appear to have gone on for some time, and have also concerned the renewal of the chapter agreement between them, which ended by default in 2009. In the chapter report for March/April 2009, Sebmol reported he had retained a San Francisco law firm pro bono to develop a response to a draft new agreement prepared by the Foundation's legal counsel Mike Godwin, which Sebmol regarded as disadvantageous for Wikimedia Deutschland. In the Foundation's most recent monthly report for July 2010, it was stated that the legal department "re-engaged a charity-specialist attorney" for various issues, and that "we confirmed that there are ongoing structural issues, particularly in Europe, with transferring charitable funds to WMF – we're looking for holistic, comprehensive ways of resolving these issues."

The Foundation's deputy director, Erik Möller, denied the Foundation had made a particular model a precondition for Wikimedia Deutschland's participation in the upcoming fundraising. He described the relationship between the Foundation and Wikimedia Germany as "excellent" and said that the WMF regards the chapter as "a model for professional organization and development of projects to support free knowledge", highlighting the Bundesarchiv image donation (see Signpost coverage) as "one of the most important developments in the Wikimedia universe in the last two years", and WM DE developer Daniel Kinzler's "WikiPics" project as "one of the most innovative ideas to make media files accessible".

In brief

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Article feedback tool

Skew in Firefox.

The testing of the article feedback tool on U. S. public policy articles—but including many articles relevant worldwide, such as immigration—is a bit strange. —innotata 01:40, 5 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]

WikiProject United States Public Policy includes a lot of broad articles that are highly relevant to aspects of US public policy although not exclusively devoted to US issues.--Sage Ross - Online Facilitator, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 02:00, 5 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I mean, why test on one topic, one project? —innotata 16:38, 9 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Sage : there's a significant issue with boxes. On Firefox, it cleaves into two rows. Standard IE vs. Firefox etc. crap. ResMar 03:17, 5 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Not a problem on Firefox for me. —innotata 18:12, 5 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]
ResMar, that was a last-minute change to make sure it behaved reasonably on 800px-wide screens. Hopefully the next iteration will solve that problem more elegantly; I don't like the two row version either.--Sage Ross - Online Facilitator, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 18:24, 5 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]

The above says: "An interesting early result is that ... experienced Wikipedians might on the average be "tougher" on articles than casual readers. DUH! How much did we spend on this? -- Ssilvers (talk) 03:03, 6 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]

It goes well with last week's 'debate' about coloring testicles on Commons...sigh. ResMar 04:17, 6 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Where was this debate? Powers T 00:49, 14 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]

"Share this" box

The Share This box overlays part of the article making that part unreadable. -- (talk) 07:30, 5 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks for the hint. Do you have JavaScript turned off? (This feature was introduced only recently, I have noted your comment in the existing discussion about it.)
Regards, HaeB (talk) 11:53, 5 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]
You're correct - this is only a problem for users browsing without JavaScript. However, the issue should now be resolved and text will flow around the box. — Pretzels Hii! 22:56, 5 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Italian Wikipedia now the fourth largest

It's good to see that Italian WP has surpassed the Polish one, since the depth there is several times greater (76/12). The Polish WP, in fact, has less depth than any major language, leading one to think that it's created primarily by dumping great numbers of translated stubs from other languages. Lampman (talk) 15:24, 9 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Where did you get these numbers...? ResMar 15:37, 9 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]


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