The Wikimedia Foundation has announced the creation of a Legal and Community Advocacydepartment. The stated purpose of the department is to "carry forward the Foundation's goals of advocating for the community in new ways, ranging from fighting for content online, to facilitating community discussions about critical WMF initiatives that affect the community, to better supporting Wikimedia administrators and functionaries, to providing information about legislative initiatives worldwide that impact online content and censorship."
LCA's first order of business will be a consultation period, expected to take 6–12 months, as it builds its team and develops its goals. Part of this process will be its establishment of a community advisory board to reinforce its commitment to "a global perspective while understanding and promoting communities beyond English Wikipedia". The team held its first office hours on 10 February.
The announcement precipitated much discussion on foundation-l, with particular focus on what it might mean for the Wikimedia Foundation's attitude towards community consultation in its decisions, legal strategy, and what role the new department might have in catalysing the community in activism. It may also indicate the continuing evolution in the handling of sensitive matters such as threats of suicide, takedown challenges, criminal activity affecting local projects, and legal liability for functionaries – which, although traditionally handled by volunteers (raising legal and ethical questions), have increasingly become the domain of the tireless Mr. Beaudette and his colleagues.
Milestones: Several projects reached milestones this week: the Outreach wiki has reached 200 administrators, the German Wiktionary has reached 200,000 entries, the Hungarian Wikibooks has reached 10,000 book modules, the Wikimania 2012 wiki has reached 1,000 registered users and 10 administrators, and the Chinese Wikipedia has reached 400,000 articles. Of particular note is the opening of the Marathi Wikisource to editing. Marathi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people of western and central India. There are more than 68 million fluent speakers—the 15th most spoken language in the world.
Foundation initiates metrics videos scheme: Every month Foundation staff gather together in the office and review "metrics and activities" from different departments. The meetings are to consist of impact, finance and human resources briefs, updates from departmental staff, and a closing statement by Sue Gardner that focuses on current organizational priorities. Starting with the February 2 meeting covering January, these meetings will be recorded and uploaded for all to see as part of the Wikimedia Foundation's monthly report; accordingly, the first such video may be viewed here.
Stewards election underway: The 2012 stewards election is now open for voting. Stewards is a usergroup with unfettered access to the entirety of the Wikimedia interface across all userspaces, mainly intended to act as enhanced user-rights users for small wikis without local administrators, or for other occasional cross-wiki roles. Voting will remain open until February 27 2012, and voters must fall within certain parameters to gain suffrage. The election process has been simplified this year, and confirmations for existing Stewards are being held alongside elections; comments are welcome on the talk page.
Wikimania updates: The deadline to apply for a Wikimania 2012 travel scholarship is February 16 (23:59 UTC). Wikipedians are encouraged to apply. Wikimania 2012 will take place July 12–15, 2012 at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Proposals for presentations may be submitted until March 18. It has been announced that the event will be hosted in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State.
Wikimedian in Residence sought at British Library: Wikimedia UK have announced the opening of a paid position for a Wikimedian in Residence at the British Library. Experienced Wikipedians familiar with GLAM initiatives are invited to apply.