Meeting:2011 AGM/Secretary's Report
This is the fourth Annual General Meeting of Wikimedia Australia.
My presence on the committee in the role of Secretary was brought about by a Special General Meeting in April this year, whereby a 'special resolution' was passed which gave effect to my undertaking this role. The meeting expressed support for my capability in taking up the position and since April I have been learning what is required in what can only be described as on the job training.
I came to this position as a relatively new member of Wikimedia Australia and the wiki in particular. Although reasonably experienced at committee secretary roles, Wikimedia Australia is a learning curve; this has meant a concerted effort has been applied by all members of the committee to hone my online committee skills and generally teach me the ropes. I am indebted to the committee who continually instruct me in the nuances of online committee work. I am particularly thankful to John Vandenberg who has patiently answered every question put to him and more importantly instructed me in the procedures and practices required for the role; which is somewhat of a huge task. I am also new to editing on the wiki and again indebted to John for instructing me in the finer points of the markup language and setting me the task of editing a book written in the mid-19th century about the lives of indigenous Australians whose country is Victoria.
The Secretary's role is largely an administrative role and requires a good understanding of committee and organisational policy, procedure and practices. It is therefore also a challenging role and one that I thoroughly enjoy because of this aspect of the work. There remains a great deal for me to learn because Wikipedia Australia is both a national organisation and a global movement.
I have no grand plans of creating the definitive wiki project. My vision is concerned with developing a full understanding of the type of projects the Chapter is currently involved with, and in particular, through the use of survey analysis, hope to develop a greater awareness of how we can offer an interesting and rewarding program to our members and non-members alike, and how we can act upon it for the benefit of our wiki community. Hopefully these steps will encourage new and sustained membership.
We are fortunate to have in place existing mechanisms such as the monthly IRC public meeting and the members email list, both of which encourage innovation and creativity through conversations with the Chapter's wiki community. Over time this effectively translates into members' establishing 'proposals', which are our mode of bringing cultural works into being, and which are initially and ultimately discussed in these forums. The projects adopted through these methods are undertaken by members of Wikimedia Australia and by engaging in this way take the Chapter forward through its purpose of the creation and maintenance of Free Cultural Works. Statement of Purpose The 'Proposal Policy' is a relatively new innovation and it is the catalyst to both stimulate discussion and importantly operationalise discussions into workable projects; and is growing in popularity with the members and the committee, turning their vision into project reality. Proposal_policy
This report will now address matters of membership and correspondence. I would then like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the 2010-2011 WMAU committee whose work throughout the year is far more than is contained in my acknowledgement.
The Chapter has 47 current financial members. This is an increase of 13 on last year's figures. In July this year renewal of membership letters were sent to members; in itself a worthwhile task because of the number of renewals that subsequently came in. We followed up on this process some weeks later and gained some more membership renewals. Over the last six month period we received some 11 applications for membership.
We have members in all States and one Territory
Australian Capital Territory - 2 members;
New South Wales - 13 members;
Northern Territory - nil;
Queensland - 5 members;
South Australia - 7 members;
Tasmania - 4 members;
Victoria - 10 members;
Western Australia - 6 members.
We have 9 female members in all States and one Territory, except for Western Australia, thereby representing 19% of our membership. Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, and Tasmania each have 1 female member; while New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria each have 2 female members.
Membership growth remains a priority. Earlier in the year we had difficulties with the CiviCRM database in that the reporting categories needed rationalising into a smaller number of categories and this resulted in an overhaul of the database making it a more reliable system. John was instrumental in getting this system up and running, which is now of great benefit to the Chapter.
The numbers of incoming correspondence are not significant. However, we respond to all enquiries, and committee members generously offer their expertise with some of these responses. For example, a request for a Speaker on the Wiki World view, for the Adelaide Festival of Ideas in October was handled by Adam. Other examples are general enquiries relating to matters of copyright; and requests regarding the use of Wikipedia linking to websites. We welcome this type of enquiry and on the rare occasion that we are unable to assist, people are directed to an appropriate area.
Traditional systems of communication emerging as a primary tool
We began using open WMAU discussion on IRC in March of this year. Participant numbers have steadily grown over that period up to the present time. In March, 10 participants joined the channel and this number grew to 23 by October. An additional innovation has been the introduction of an 'agenda' outlining the topics for discussion. An example of an agenda item incudes the camera equipment program; content re-licensing; non-member participation (out of this came the appointment of 'account approvers'); voting methods; Wikipedia loves... my town, to name just a few. And from the beginning participants on the public meeting space explored with committee, the idea of examining the benefits of a WMAU strategic plan. The IRC is now a popular communication tool where members and non-members and committee share in discussion about the possibilities of creating new proposals.
We intend placing the meeting log on the public wiki and to this end we are presently working on a preferred format. There are unique difficulties which need to be taken into consideration when transcribing IRC logs into 'minute' format. For purposes of clarity the log discussion (the order of which is often out of sync with the flow of conversation because of the nature of the IRC keyboard responses) will need to be adjusted in order to achieve continuity of the discussion. We are endeavouring to capture significant chat; useful links; and any motions on a proposal. When these aspects are worked through we hope the minuted-log of conversation will be a valuable record of ideas, innovation, and selected proposals. Proposal Namespace
I would like to acknowledge the help and support of the committee throughout every stage of my induction into Wikimedia Australia. Throughout my on the job training, their humour and their humanity instilled a climate which welcomed my searching questions of learning. Through their efforts I have grown to understand and appreciate the global movement and in particular the Australian Chapter of Wikimedia.
I would like to acknowledge just a fraction of the work achieved in this term by this committee, and recognise that in doing so there will be much of importance that I have missed.
John for his excellent care of committee matters and his propensity to always find time to attend to any matter, no matter how small the request, or how busy he might be at the time it is requested. He is attributed as opening up the wiki changing the website license from GFDL to creative commons; and making it possible for non-member participation on the wiki. This work all comes together through the Proposal Policy, which is another innovation in hand with creative commons and non-member participation.
Adam for his gentle quiet achievements. He piloted the camera equipment program, and to assist the decision making utilised a methodology based on discourse analysis, which enabled the evaluation of discussion. Adam will be greatly missed around the online committee room and on the committee email list for his thorough analysis of matters, which help everyone, as he has chosen not to return to committee this year.
Craig for his spectacular efforts of going with a strategic plan for WMAU. He is also the first person to use the sub-committee system with its terms of reference that guides the progress and timing of reporting. Primarily Craig put the accounting books in order in a significantly historical moment in WMAU's history particularly because of the fundraising. John and Craig were heavily involved in getting the Fundraiser agreement with the Wikimedia Foundation signed.
Andrew has served on committee for 2 years and 9 months; the initial period as an observer. He has contributed his passion and his knowledge to areas of growth in membership; and been an advocate of the need for constructive communication. I will personally miss his ready advice on procedural matters. He has chosen to retire from committee at this AGM and his presence will be missed.
Charles for his steady contribution to committee matters; his presence at committee meetings and the IRC chat, and his contribution to discussions on the committee mailing list make him a valuable member of committee, which included his input into the Strategic Planning workshop held in Sydney earlier this year. He is currently finalising technical and procedural matters regarding our social media.
Brian, our guru public officer has been with the Chapter from its beginnings and is a vital link to our institutional memory; his insight into previous practice is invaluable. He provides a vital presence of stability that nurtures and sustains the collective membership, meandering through the sometimes-difficult bureaucracies of fundraising and Consumer Affairs Victoria paperwork.
It's been a pleasure to serve with this committee toward the greater purpose and goals of the global movement that is the wiki world.