When Bismarck phoned Metternich

"We shall be a single People of brethren, Never to part in danger nor distress." Swiss national myth, the oath of Rütli (lyrics by Schiller).

Two days ago I was called by Sebastian Moleski, we talked extensively and intensively about the future Chapters Council. On the Meta Wiki page, there is a “Model B” mainly presented by Sebastian and a “Model KISS” written by me, both before the Financial Meeting in Paris when a number of chapters agreed in principle on creating a chapters council.

We were unanimous on a lot of points, disagreed on others, but mainly we could make clear that we are not presenting two different ways to the same goal, but to two different goals. I wouldn’t see a concurrence between both models but rather a choice the chapters have to make.

“Model KISS” / Model Metternich is a rather reluctant proposal playing on safe. It foresees a pure collaboration between the Wikimedia chapters. Think of the first version of the United States of America before 1787, or the German Confederation of 1815/1820 with the Austrian chancellor Metternich (no political allusions intended, by the way). The chapters council in Model Metternich is simply a platform were chapters meet and vote on common statements. The scope is very restricted to the tasks originally intended for a chapters council: nominate WMF board members, represent the chapters in discussions with the WMF, possibly send members to a future FDC etc.

“Model B” / Model Bismarck is much more ambitious. It will create a new entity, an association of the chapters council. Think of the second (modern) version of the US, or the North German Confederation or German Empire created by Bismarck (again, no political allusions intended). The chapters will still exist and have an important role, but the members of the chapters council will be very independent once elected (for a limited term, of course). This means that the chapters will have to pass a lot of power to the chapters council, or, to be more exact, they create a new power entrusted to the chapters council. With the association, the Model Bismarck will provide a strong basis for the projected tasks and to serve “as an umbrella organization for the chapters in all other aspects not mentioned before”.

The models can be altered, but I stress out again: they present two different futures. When I wrote Model Metternich, I was cautious, considering that many chapters are (still) rather weak and have few human and financial resources. Sebastian is projecting a future organisation (based on the chapters council) the current chapters could grow into. I principally do not disagree with him, but would like to keep Model Metternich to fall back on for the case that the chapters should not agree on the many points that will have to be dealt with for Model Bismarck. Or maybe Metternich can be the first step and Bismarck the second?

The discussion started, and let’s hope that we will have something to decide on in Berlin in March.


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