Queenslanders voting in the federal election on July 2 will face a choice between an unprecedented forty columns on the ballot paper, as well as an astonishing nineteen ungrouped independent candidates.  With so many options, as well as a new system for voting in the Senate, it can be hard to make sense of it all.  That’s why I’ve put together this brief guide that goes through the options that’ll be available to Queenslanders in the hope that it will help people make a more informed decision.

ballotLW-620x349

That’s a pretty big ballot paper!

How to vote in the Senate

In previous elections, voters have been required to either vote once “above the line”, or fill in all of the boxes “below the line”.  For the first time in 2016, a new system is being used, that will hopefully make it easier for voters to express their preferences, and cut down on the “preference swapping” by minor parties that led to the election of unknown candidates with tiny proportions of the vote.  This time around, voters are required to either number six or more boxes “above the line”, or twelve or more boxes “below the line”.  You can’t mix and match by filling in boxes both above and below the line.

Votes placed above the line will be counted the same as a below the line vote preferencing that ticket’s candidates from top to bottom.  For instance, if you vote “1” above the line for the Renewable Energy Party, it will be the same as voting below the line “1” for their lead candidate, “2” for the second name, etc.

There is really no reason to vote below the line any more, unless:

a) You wish to vote for one of the “ungrouped” candidates;

b) You would like to place a party candidate you particularly favour ahead of where their party has placed them on their ticket, or;

c) You would like to place a party candidate lower that you particularly dislike below where their party has placed them on the ticket.

To maximise the effectiveness of your vote, you should number more than the minimum number of preferences.  This will reduce the chance that your vote will be “exhausted”, with all the candidates that you’ve expressed preferences for being eliminated from the count, leading to your ballot being discarded.  My strategy has been to sort the tickets into four piles:

1) Parties that I would like to see elected.  These get allocated the best preferences.
2) Parties that I have no strong feelings about.  These get preferenced below the parties I’d like to see elected.
3) Parties that I dislike, but which I do not consider anti-democratic.  These get lower preferences than parties I’m neutral on, but still better preferences than parties I consider verboten.
4) Parties that I will not vote for under any circumstances.  These either get the lowest preferences or are not preferenced at all.

Analysis of parties

The plan that reforming the Senate voting system would lead to fewer parties entering the count seems to not come to fruition, at least at this election.  Below is a list of the information I’ve been able to find on each party, including their ideology, platform, and other miscellaneous points of interest.  I have not included the ungrouped candidates here, as they will be eliminated on the first count and will not play a significant role; many of them also do not have an online presence.

Column / Party Ideology Notes
A. Australian Cyclists Party pro-cyclist
B. The Arts Party pro-arts
C. Secular Party of Australia anti-dominionism
D. Australian Labor Party social democratic
E. Liberal Democrats guns, libertarianism Not to be confused with the Liberal National Party
F. Online Direct Democracy direct democracy
G. Liberal National Party conservative
H. Animal Justice Party animal rights, veganism
I. Katter’s Australian Party ruralist, protectionist
J. Marriage Equality marriage equality, LGBT rights
K. Mature Australia grey, pro-retiree
L. Nick Xenophon Team anti-gambling
M. Pirate Party Australia anti-copyright, privacy
N. Australian Liberty Alliance anti-islam, racism
O. Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party populism, anti-paedophile, shame
P. Citizens Electoral Council LaRoucheism, conspiracies
Q. Shooters, Fishers and Farmers guns, anti-green
R. Independent (Rivas/Tanguilig) ?? No discernable online presence
S. Democratic Labor Party christian dominionism (Catholic) Not to be confused with the Australian Labor Party
T. Family First Party christian dominionism (Hillsong/Pentecostal) Lead candidate is former LNP candidate Rod McGarvie, who loudly left the LNP over their “left wing” approach to marriage equality
U. Renewable Energy Party renewable energy, green Formerly the “Human Rights Party”.  Founded by former RLS and ALP MP Peter Breen.
V. Sex Party / HEMP anti-censorship, drug reform
W. Voteflux direct democracy
X. One Nation Party anti-islam, racism, populism
Y. Rise Up Australia Party christian dominionism (Pentecostal)
Z. Socialist Equality Party Trotskyism, Marxism
AA. Christian Democratic Party christian dominionism (Protestant)
AB. Palmer United Party populism
AC. Glenn Lazarus Team populism
AD. Jacqui Lambie Network populism, anti-islam
AE. Australian Progressives social progressive
AF. Australian Christians christian dominionism (Protestant) Splinter group from the Christian Democratic Party
AG. Drug Law Reform drug reform
AH. Health Australia Party anti-vaxx, anti-flouride
AI. Countryminded agrarian, protectionist
AJ. Veterans Party veterans affairs
AK. Greens green, social progressive
AL. Sustainable Australia green, anti-immigration
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When it comes to cynical and deplorable actions in the name of national security and realpolitik, the eviction of the Chagossian people from the islands of Diego Garcia is up there with the best.  Amazingly, the forced removal of thousands of people from their island homes in the name of building a naval base isn’t some tale of 18th century colonial terror, it’s something that happened within recent memory, in the 1960s, in a time when the world was starting to wake up and realise that pinching lesser developed countries just because you could wasn’t a very nice thing to do.

Unfortunately, the legitimate struggle of the Chagossian people to return to their homeland isn’t done any favours by the likes of Tony Mckenna, whose article “Convenient freedom: a tale of two islands” appeared on The Drum this week.  The article was so riddled with inaccuracies, sloppy research, and selectiveness with the facts that not only does it make Mckenna look like an opportunist more interested in raising his own profile than actually helping people, but it also calls into question whether the folk at The Drum bother to proofread or check articles before they post them.

Lets start with some of Mckenna’s surprising claims about Diego Garcia and its inhabitants.  The first bit is where he claims that “They lived in a series of small, bustling villages set against mountains which sloped from the misty horizons down to the glistening aquamarine of the Indian Ocean.”  Presumably, the British not only removed all of the inhabitants from the island, but they also removed all of its picturesque mountains, as like most coral atolls, Diego Garcia is as flat as a pancake.  The highest point on the islands sits at the towering height of 15 metres above sea level.  It is a minor point perhaps, but one has to wonder whether having gotten such an elementary fact wrong in the second paragraph, how many other inaccuracies are in the article.

Image of Diego Garcia.  No mountains, misty or otherwise, noted.

The misty peaks of Diego Garcia.

As it turns out, the mountains aren’t an aberration in the article.  Mckenna then goes on to talk about the idyllic existance of the noble savages Chagossians, discussing how they were able to fish in the pristine coastal waters, grow crops and raise livestock, and mine coal for export.  Yes, you read correctly, coal.   Somehow, it seems, the Chagossians were able to extract coal, a mineral normally found in seams deep underground, from an island composed primarily of bleached coral.  Coal mining also typically leaves ugly scarring on the landscape, which is not evident in satellite or aerial photographs of the place, but perhaps the coal pits were removed from the island at the same time as the mountains.

Then, Mckenna paints a picture that the Chagossians were the indigenous inhabitants of Diego Garcia.  In fact, the island itself was uninhabited until 1778, probably due to its isolated location and lack of natural resources.  The original inhabitants were a small number of French colonists, who were replaced by a British colony in 1786.  This colony failed in short order due to a lack of supplies, and the island became uninhabited again (apart from a few incidents of lepers being marooned there) until the French introduced slave to the island in 1793.  Having your home ripped from you without compensation is not an okay thing no matter how long you’ve been there, but the Chagossians lived on Diego Garcia for a shorter time than whites lived in Australia.  For what it’s worth (and not that it makes it okay), the Chagossians also

A clumsy analogy is then drawn between the crimes of the British and Americans on Diego Garcia, and the British settlement on the Falkland Islands.  It’s a very spurious analogy; the colonisation of the Falklands by Britain was probably one of the least offensive instances of colonialism in human history.  There were no native inhabitants to displace, the colonists didn’t strip mine the place, and they established a broadly democratic and peaceful system that has never offered threat to anybody or anything.  The existence of a conspiracy involving the UK government to use the Falklands for sabre-rattling in hostile electoral climates is advanced, without also pointing out that the Argentine government does exactly the same thing, that the Falklands government has repeatedly offered to sit down and hammer out a deal with Argentina, and that the inhabitants of the Falklands have continually asserted that they don’t care to change the status quo at all.  Evidently, the democratically expressed wishes of the people of the Falklands aren’t as important to Mckenna as causing some minor embarrassment to the imperalist UK enemy.

Perhaps by expecting that some basic research is done before committing pen to paper is too much to expect from Mckenna, whose profile picture on The Drum looks like it was taken after a particularly boisterous night out.   Sloppy work like this only trivialises the subject matter and makes it harder for those who have been working for decades to bring much needed attention to their cause.  There are already enough activities going on around Diego Garcia that demand attention and should provide plenty of fodder for a budding investigative journalist; the obstinate refusal of the UK and US governments to let the Chagossians return, even temporarily, or the suspected use of the military base there to shuttle suspects in the “War on Terror” between different jurisdictions depending on what sort of torture was required.  If Tony Mckenna could concentrate on those issues, and hire someone to proofread and fact check his articles before he publishes them, he might find that he doesn’t need to make stuff up to pad out his articles.

 


I’ve long been of the opinion that the Liberal Party and their ilk in this country are motivated, as well as a desire to kowtow to the big end of town, by a hatred and fear of the working class in this country.  I have never been able to put this as well as “Reggieman” did on The Punch today, while describing exactly what he thinks the average Labor voter is like:

However, a wander around my local shopping centre doesn’t leave me with much hope – from tattooed young mums with six kids in tow, pushing twin-prams and shouting at little Cain to “get ‘ere now or else I’ll smash ya”, while the father of her latest kid, a rough-nut with his baseball cap on backwards and his baggy pants around his ankles, counts the small change in his pockets left over from this weeks dole to see whether it stretches to being able to buy another packet of Winfields, to the middle-aged truckie named Des in his West Tigers Jersey who has voted Labor all his life and will till the day he dies because “that’s what me old man done”, while his dutiful defacto partner Shazza does the same because she doesn’t follow politics and just votes the way Des tells her to. I despair at the possibility of Thompson getting in again because of these people.

 

God forbid that someone works in an honest job like driving trucks, enjoys rugby league and cigarettes, or is named “Sharon”.  Clearly, we need the input of people like Reggieman to save these people from themselves, with the aid of the cold paternal hand of Australian conservatism, of course!


Today, Wikimedia Australia has launched its strategic plan for the next three years for public comment and feedback.  In the greatest Wikimedia tradition, it’s also a plan that anyone can edit, at least if you have an account on our Wiki!  While I hope just looking at the plan can give people an idea of what we’re doing, I thought I’d also share my thoughts on the process that we went through to develop this plan, in the hope that other chapters can benefit from our experiences.

But first, you should read the draft plan!

http://www.wikimedia.org.au//wiki/Draft_Strategic_Plan

Strategic Planning: It’s not just for large chapters anymore

The first thing I’d say is that strategic planning is not an exercise that can or should only be undertaken by large chapters or organisations.  Wikimedia Australia came to the conclusion that we needed to put our heads down and write a strategic plan about twelve hours after the beginning of the 2010/11 fundraiser, when it became evident that we were going to be successful beyond our wildest dreams, and that we’d have a lot more money than we planned to have.  Looking back, it would have been great if we had a strategic plan in place then, so that we could have hit the ground running and immediately known what we were going to do with all of that money.

The other great advantage to having a strategic plan in place is that it does provide a lot of focus on what the chapter should be doing, and provides a benchmark to see if you’re being successful or not.  My observation is that many chapters have lots of great ideas, but haven’t really thought about which ones they should prioritise and why.  Once you know what your priorities are and you’ve broken down the challenges into small, manageable and measurable chunks, it’s a lot easier to start working on that challenge, and also see if you’re succeeding or just spinning your wheels.

In summary, even chapters with modest resources should consider engaging in a strategic planning process.

Face to face

It’s obvious given the fact that Wikimedians are generally technologically savvy, and given the way that the initial idea of “an encyclopaedia that anyone can edit” exploded across the Internet without too much in the way of face-to-face meetings, that we’re pretty good at using tools such as talk pages, email, and blogs to communicate and get these things done.  However, we felt that we would get much more done by actually sitting together in the same room and working on the plan in real time.

In an Australian context, getting everyone into the same room is a pretty big challenge.  People needed to give up their entire weekends, take time off of work, and travel from all over the country to get to that room.  Clearly, there is a lot of time and expense involved in doing this.  However, I would not hesitate to recommend that the time and expense is worth it, and we got a lot more done in two days of face to face meetings than we got done in months of emailing.

In summary, get together and discuss things in person.  It is so much more productive, and so much easier to do things that way.

Cast your net wide

Another very important consideration is to make sure that your plan has stakeholder buy-in.  As an example of the dangers of not making this a priority, you only need to look at the strategic plan of every organisation that I’ve ever worked for (and I’ve worked in the non-profit, private and public sectors before).  Generally, the plan is developed by the senior management of the organisation, perhaps with the input of a few consultants with MBAs.  If employees, customers, or other “small” stakeholders are consulted, generally it’s either a token gesture or an afterthought.  The end result of this is that even in the unlikely event that the stakeholders know what’s in the strategic plan, then they don’t feel that they have had any “buy-in” and they don’t really feel compelled to see it through.

How did we address this problem in Wikimedia Australia?  First of all, our management committee decided to delegate the actual writing of the plan to a subcommittee made up of a variety of stakeholders.  Diversity of people and opinions was a very important consideration in assembling this group; we had members and non-members, men and women (actually, it was pointed out to me after assembling the subcommittee that women made up a majority.  This was not intentional, people were purely selected on merit, but it was a happy coincidence anyhow, given how traditionally male-dominated the Wikimedia movement is.), and most importantly both established editors and interested parties who were not traditional “Wikimedians”.  Having a diverse group forces you to challenge unproductive assumptions that you might have made, and discourages groupthink.  Of course, if everyone in such a diverse group agrees on a particular idea, it’s probably a good idea with a wide appeal.

Strategic Planning Group

What a cheery looking group!

Having a diverse subcommittee helps, but it’s not the be all and end all.  We were very determined that other stakeholders should have as much input into the plan as possible.  For this reason we used IdeaScale to solicit ideas before the workshop, and insisted on a long period after the draft was submitted for feedback and discussion.  Before being adopted, the plan must be ratified by all of the members of the organisation at the annual general meeting.  That way “ownership” of the plan is held by all of the members of the organisation, and not just the senior leaders.

The counterbalance to this is that if you have too many voices, you can quickly run into a situation where everybody is talking and nobody is getting heard, and no decision ends up being made.  For an example of this in action, check out pretty much any Request for Comment on English Wikipedia!  That’s why we kept the bulk of the drafting process in the hands of a seven-person subcommittee; any more and the room gets too noisy, any less and you risk leaving out important voices and stakeholder groups.

In summary, get as much input as you can without getting indecisive, and think outside the box when it comes to who you include in the process.

Read, read, and read

If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re not someone who’s experienced with developing strategic plans in a professional capacity.  Attempting to develop a workable plan without doing some research first would be like trying to assemble IKEA furniture without first looking at the instruction sheet.  I can freely admit that I’ve never had such a big role in developing a strategic plan before, and in order to prepare I did a lot of reading.  If you’re also new to this process, I would suggest the following:

  • There is this website called “Wikipedia”, and they have an article on the topic called “strategic planning”.  It’s not that great in English, but perhaps the other language versions are better.
  • Without a doubt the best book I read on the subject was “Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations”, by John M. Bryson.  While it is rather US-centric, the principles that Bryson enumerates, while they seem like common sense to me now, were very useful in getting my head around what was required.  Highly recommended.
  • There are a lot of fine videos on YouTube that deal with the subject, but two that I found particularly useful were “Common Strategic Planning Pitfalls” by Erica Olsen, and “What is Strategic Planning?” by Marla Johnson.

In conclusion, the great strategic planners know what they’re talking about, and if you’re going to be involved in formulating a plan, so should you.

Listen, listen, and listen

Okay, this is probably just an extension of the “cast your net wide” point above, but there is a lot of experience already in the movement about how to come up with a workable strategic plan.  We were able to tap the experience and expertise of the UK, French and German chapters by recording interviews with them about their experiences while planning, and looking at the issues that they were facing and how they were overcoming them.  We were then able to take that and apply it to our own situation.  The experience was invaluable and I’d highly recommend that any chapter looking to walk this road talks to other chapters first for pointers.

We were also really fortunate to be able to talk to the WMF as a part of our planning.  As someone mentioned during the workshop, they are the “ninety thousand pound gorilla” in the room for all of the chapters, and Wikimedia Australia considers them to be the most important single stakeholder that we interact with.  Getting their input and feedback is absolutely essential if you want to be successful.  We were very fortunate to be able to have a phone hook up with Philippe Beaudette to discuss in real time what we wanted to do, and what the WMF’s expectations were of what we should be doing.  Happily, the two were largely in sync.

It was also really helpful to know the WMF’s strategic plan back to front.  Even if you don’t want to take that as a template for your own agreement (and you shouldn’t necessarily do this, there are some WMF things that are not practical for a chapter to do, and some chapter things that are not practical for the WMF to do), it was a great starting point for us to look at what we might be able to do, and what we might be able to get WMF support for.  Every single one of the suggested strategic programme directions in our plan has an alignment to one or more of the WMF’s strategic directions, which is a good sign that we’re not going to come into any conflict over what we want to do.

Lastly, consider hiring a facilitator.  I was reluctant at first to do it because they can be expensive, rates generally start at AUD1000 a day, and include preparation time as well as face-to-face time, but I’m glad that the rest of the subcommittee twisted my arm and convinced me to do it.  Not only do they provide the essential service of keeping you on track and on topic, but a good facilitator can also help you draw out links and ideas that you never knew that you had.  If you can afford it, I’d definitely recommend getting one.

In summary, talk to as many people as you can about what you want to do, and seek as much advice as possible.

Be practical

It’s important that your strategic plan is also practical and that your goals are achievable.  It’s no use spending a lot of time and energy coming up with all of these great ideas if your chapter does not have the resources to make it happen.  There were a few ideas floated during our workshop that would be wonderful if we can make them happen, but simply are not achievable by our chapter by 2014.  You can keep them in the back of your mind, but your chapter and the movement as a whole will be a lot better served if you achieve realistic goals, rather than failing to reach unattainable goals.

The bottom line

No matter how prepared you are going into the strategic planning process, any document that you come up with will not be perfect.  I know that our members and the wider community will have improvements to make to what we have developed, and I’d be disappointed if they didn’t.  I’m also aware that not everyone will agree with the prioritisation and directions that we’ve chosen, but hopefully there’s a little something in there for everyone and people will be able to tolerate the bits that they’re not too fond of.

So the bottom line?  If you’re a Wikimedia chapter, you should be either engaged in a strategic planning process, or thinking about beginning a strategic planning process.  There is plenty of expertise and help around, and the movement as a whole will be served well if we are all working towards clear, enunciated goals.


Most people who follow politics to any serious degree know that polls are extremely difficult to construct properly, and that most of them are not worth the acres of newspaper coverage that they spawn.  Mid-term polls are particularly useless, with the next federal election two years away, the opinions of the electorate right now aren’t particularly relevant to anything.  Those with a memory longer than about seven seconds will also remember that at this point in the last electoral cycle, the Liberal Party was severely on the nose, and excitable pundits were openly musing on the idea that the party might disintegrate and usher in a new era of unchallenged Labor dominance.

How the wheel has turned, hey?

But, coming back to my main point, I was amused when I read this story in my local rag:

Kevin Rudd backed by three times as many voters as Julia Gillard to lead Labor: Essential Media poll

It’s fairly standard stuff for News Limited papers: the Labor party is doomed, everyone hates Julia Gillard, and Tony Abbott has the right stuff to lead the country.  It even goes a bit further than most polls, making such claims as:

“Labor’s primary vote has stagnated at 31 per cent nationally and 32 per cent in Queensland, the Galaxy poll found. This would lead to Labor losing 27 seats nationally, including every Queensland seat except Mr Rudd’s electorate of Griffith, the poll found.”

Pretty serious stuff, hey?  But there’s one little detail tucked away in the article that interests me:

“A Galaxy poll of 2000 people, commissioned by Australian Coal Association”

The Australian Coal Association?  Hmm, now why might the Australian Coal Association be in the business of commissioning a political poll, rather than digging the stuff up or turning it into electricity?  Surely it couldn’t be that they’re engaged in a political fight with the Labor Party, and have paid for a poll which has very conveniently returned a result that everyone hates Julia and loves coal?  Now, I assume that the Courier Mail’s journalist Steven Scott isn’t completely stupid, but exactly what value does a poll like this have?  About as much, one would think, as a poll commissioned by the Wilderness Society which would report that Australians want more unspoiled wilderness and no new coal mines.

Now, it’s one thing for a glorified local rag to latch onto a story like this, but how about our supposedly more sober and intellectual national daily?  Nope, their Sid Maher came up with more or less the same ‘conclusions’ by looking at the coal poll:

Carbon tax campaign spinning its wheels

Polling commissioned by the Australian Coal Association also shows the government has achieved only marginal gains in support for the carbon tax since the package was released early last month and that a clear majority of voters remain opposed.

You heard it here folks, according to the Coal Association, the carbon tax isn’t popular, she can’t make it popular, and she might as well give up!  Thanks to News Limited for bringing us this insightful little piece of nothing.  The thing I don’t understand is how stupid the journalists in question must think their readers are, if they expect to take those interpretations at face value.


Much has been made of a recent blog post by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Stu West regarding the financial model of the Wikimedian movement, and the question of how the movement as a whole can ensure that money we collect from donors is properly accounted for and used.  That blog post has generated quite a bit of comment, including lengthy replies from Sebastian Moleski, Phoebe Ayers, Florence Devouard and Delphine Menard.  Having this discussion is a good thing, and I hope that this post can add some points onto all of the excellent commentary and analysis that has already taken place.

I’m going to concentrate on Stu’s first question, because it’s the one that I think has the most relevance to my own position as the Treasurer of Wikimedia Australia.  I must point out at this point that these views are my own, and not official positions of my chapter.

Stu West sez: “Is it right that 50% of rich country donations stay in those rich countries?”

As others have pointed out, this is a rather misleading statistic and does not reflect the current reality of how money is distributed around the movement.  Official statistics on exactly how much was raised and who raised it is not easy to come by on the Wikimedia Foundation’s website.  Indeed, there isn’t even any mention as far as I can see in the Annual Report that a lot of the legwork (receipting donations, managing enquiries, and the like) is done by chapters and not by the foundation itself.  The closest official, public statistic I can find is this one from the 2010/11 Financial Plan Q&A site:

“The 2010-11 plan assumes $16.5 million in individual donations (including $0.5 million share from chapters)”

While this is a plan figure, I don’t think it’s totally unrealistic, since a very large portion of the WMF small donor funding comes from the United States, where they get a 100% share of the net donations.  Assuming an exact 50/50 split between money remitted to the foundation and what the chapter gets to keep, we can therefore conclude that chapters end up with just over 3% of the total funding raised.  In reality it’s not a 50/50 split and indeed for the 2010/11 fundraiser, Wikimedia Australia ended up with 54.5% of the money raised after all fees and concessions had been taken into account.  I assume this is a rather typical figure, but for the sake of argument let us be very generous and assume that 5% of the total funds raised end up in the bank accounts of chapters rather than the WMF account.

As astute readers will have noticed, 5% is a lot less than 50%!  So what essentially happens is that 95% of the total money is held by the WMF, who can then go and spend the money anywhere they wish.  A lot of that money needs to be spent inside the US, on things like professional staff (lawyers, techs, accountants, etc), but the programme work component, according to Page 20 of the annual plan is 77%.  So, even making the assumption that none of the money going to “rich country” chapters is going to developing countries (a flawed assumption that I will get to later), over 81% of money raised is controlled by the WMF and available for investment into the so-called “global south”.

The practical effect of this split is that WMF could spend 50% of the total revenue by the movement on the whole in the developing world, and there would even then still be 31% free in WMF hands for projects and programmes in the developed world, and that’s even without dipping into the WMF’s operational funds or chapter revenues.  The following graph shows how the breakdown would work in the event that this was to happen:

Final Destination for Fundraising Revenue

There are a number of issues even with the above split.  For instance, the split between developed and developing countries (or, as the foundation likes to call them, ‘global north’ and ‘global south’ countries) is often not clear.   For instance, Wikimedia Hungary is one of the chapters who has been involved in fundraising.  While not amongst the poorest countries in the world, it’s HDI is not in the league of the USA, Australia or the Nordic countries, and it’s behind several other ex-communist Eastern European countries.  It is not listed as one of the “Global North” countries in our article on the topic.  Should the money raised and spent inside Hungary by its chapter be considered money spent in a “rich” country?  I would say “No”.

Another issue is that “rich” country chapters are often involved in projects and programmes in developing countries.  The most obvious manifestation of this is where chapters in rich countries provide financial and technical assistance to chapters in developing countries.  For instance, Wikimedia Australia paid for representatives of Wikimedia Indonesia to attend both the chapters’ meeting in Berlin earlier this year, as well as for representatives of the Indonesian chapter to attend events such as the Australian Metadata conference to help them build capacity in their own countries.  Other smaller chapters, including those in developing regions, have also benefitted from arrangements like this.

However, the great irony in this discussion is that events have already moved on from the situation that Stu has described.  For instance, that 50% figure is nowhere to be found in the current fundraising agreements between chapters and the foundation.  Chapters must now submit a budget to the WMF, and are allowed to fundraise up to that amount (of course, they are also allowed to seek additional revenue sources beyond what they fundraise through WMF).  So, only as much money will be staying in the chapter as they have a budget for.  This would seem to be a nice, neat solution to the “problem”.

This post is getting long, so I’ll round things out by saying that I’m disappointed that this came out of the blue from a member of the WMF Board of Trustees.  Many chapters are currently engaged in strategic planning activities, and it is difficult for chapters to have the confidence to develop long-term plans when we have trustees (or senior employees like Sue Gardner, who brought up much the same question a few months ago) openly musing on tinkering with chapter’s main sources of income.


Blog Guilt

29Jul11

I’m one of those people who really loves the idea of blogging.  I’m also one of those people that just simply doesn’t happen to have anything like the attention span required to do it properly.  I think this is probably the fourth or fifth time I’ve tried to do it, and while each time I’ve started off strongly, it always seems to trail off within a few days.

And if you know me, you’ll know it’s not because I lack opinions or a will to broadcast them!  And I often think of great topics to blog on, but actually finding the time to put something together that I’m comfortable publishing always seems to elude me.

So, my question is, to those more accomplished in the dark blogging arts than I, how do you find the time and motivation to post regularly on stuff?  Is there some simple trick that I am missing?  Or is it a matter of a disciplined mind and structured thinking, in which case I should give up right away?