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The COVID-19 global pandemic is an ongoing pandemic which was first reported on 17 November 2019 and was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on 11 March 2020. Organized groups within the Wikimedia movement have been monitoring the situation since early 2020 and have taken a number of measures to help slow the spread of the pandemic.

The Wikimedia Foundation has setup this Meta-Wiki page to help community organizers report, track, and monitor its impact across the movement. Please join the Foundation in adding information on how your Wikimedia communities, affiliates, and other organized groups are responding to this situation.

Current overview

As of 16 March 2020, the Wikimedia movement has taken the following operational actions in response to the COVID-19 epidemic:

  • With the exception of Wikimania, the feasibility of which is being evaluated now, all offline (in-person) public events funded by Wikimedia Foundation grants, including conferences, taking place before 15 September 2020 must be cancelled or postponed until further notice. This includes Wikimedia Summit 2020. A decision is being made on Wikimania and is expected by the end of day, March 23.
  • Wikimedia Foundation's offices are closed until at least 31 March 2020
    • All Wikimedia Foundation staff are working remotely as much as possible
    • Offices are being sanitized by professional cleaning crews
  • Wikimedia Foundation has shifted to a reduced work week.
    • Some staff may continue to work their usual schedules, but expectations are that staff may work 20 hours a week if necessary.
    • All will be paid according to their usual work schedules.
    • Normal sick time requirements and limitations are being waived; staff who are ill or who are caring for ill family may take time off as necessary to tend to themselves or their families.

Additionally, members of our communities continue to actively update, maintain, and translate information on the pandemic across our projects and in dozens of languages.

Global resources and information

An illustration of the effect of spreading out infections over a long period of time, known as flattening the curve; decreasing peaks allows healthcare services to better manage the same volume of patients.

Efforts on Wikimedia projects

Please post any information on how Wikimedia projects are responding.

Wikimedia Commons



Wikimedia Foundation messages

As of 16 March 2020, the Wikimedia Foundation has publicly shared these messages regarding the COVID-19 pandemic:

Information from movement affiliates and organized groups

Please post any announcements or information from Wikimedia movement affiliates or recognized groups.

Seeking assistance

We encourage you to use this page's talk page to discuss what you and your affiliate or organized group needs during this time. Information on potential assistance for needs identified in those discussions will be shared here.

Frequently asked questions

What is being done about Wikimania?

As our largest and most complex event, Wikimania requires some additional thought and consideration. The Foundation is currently working with the local organizing team and departments across the organization to assess and determine our best next steps. We anticipate that the week of 16 March 2020 we will have a decision on our next steps for this important gathering.

What is included in cancellation of public events and conferences?

The Wikimedia Foundation is instructing all grant recipients to cancel or postpone any in-person events scheduled between now and 15 September 2020. That includes any funded event such as hackathons, editathons, trainings, or presentations which will bring together in-person any number of individuals at one time. It does not include online events where individuals are participating remotely and in separate spaces from each other.

Are there commendations extending beyond grant recipients?

The Wikimedia Foundation encourages everyone in the Wikimedia movement to consider how their planned activities, especially events, may impact the potential spread of COVID-19. While we are requiring that grant funds not be used for these events, we are strongly encouraging all affiliates and organized groups to similarly cancel or postpone any events they have scheduled between now and 15 September 2020 until the World Health Organization declares the COVID-19 pandemic over.

What about planned Wikimedia Foundation events?

All Wikimedia Foundation travel has been suspended until the end of April 2020. In early April 2020, the Foundation Leadership Team will consider extending further. All events, off-sites, and in-person gatherings scheduled before 15 September 2020 for Wikimedia Foundation staff and contractors, Board, and fundraising have been postponed or cancelled. A decision regarding Wikimania is forthcoming, please see the above question for more information.

What is happening with the Wikimedia Foundation's current programs and plans?

The Wikimedia Foundation Leadership Team is reviewing all work for the Wikimedia Foundation and attempting to postpone or put on hold all non-essential work pending further assessment of the situation. We are aware that the needs and obligations of the Foundation may shift dramatically in the coming weeks and potentially months. We are taking this step in order to free up capacity and provide the necessary flexibility to address whatever demands may arise and ensure the public has access to the knowledge that can help everyone in these uncertain times. We are not abandoning any longterm commitments or goals. We will return to them and adjust our timelines accordingly as soon as the current situation allows.

How will the Wikimedia Foundation working 20 hours a week work?

We are only asking people to commit to working 50 percent of their normal hours. This is not a holiday. If people are able to work more normal hours, our mission needs them. But we are not tracking their time. We trust that people will give the time they can.

Why? We knew schools would be closing around the world, and a childcare stipend will not help when caregivers are unable to leave their homes. It is unreasonable and unrealistic to expect someone to be fully present, eight hours a day, when they have a three-year-old with crayons drawing on the wall, or an elderly parent who needs help navigating the stairs. We all have loved ones who need care, groceries that need purchasing, doctor’s appointments to keep, neighbors who need a phone call. And you know what? We trust our colleagues. People will work when they can, and when they can not, we trust they will be right.

What is the Wikimedia Foundation currently doing to support the community?

In addition to providing support to our affiliates and organized groups receiving grant funding, we are also looking at ways we can support the additional online coordination which may be required to supplement our usual in-person efforts.

The work of the Wikimedia movement is perhaps more important now than ever before. However, our full potential in supporting the world during this time can only be achieved and maintained by a healthy and vibrant community. That will not happen if we do not all take into consideration what is necessary to support both ourselves and each other as individuals. While this good faith approach to communal support has always been a goal of our movement, the current circumstances require us all to make an even more intentional effort at self and community care.

What is the Wikimedia Foundation currently doing to support its staff and contractors?

The Wikimedia Foundation takes the responsibility of care for its over 375 staff and contractors very seriously. It has been a core value of the organization since our founding over fifteen years ago. Additionally, as an organization we have a responsibility to keep Wikipedia online and available for the world, especially in moments of crisis. A world that is changing requires changing how we work. In order to care for our staff and contractors as well as adapt to change as needed in the weeks and months ahead, we have taken a series of steps:

  1. We are accepting that we must adapt to evolving circumstances. The old normal is gone, and trying to make reality conform to last week or last month is not helpful or productive. We are filing away our careful annual planning, OKRs, and roadmaps. Trying to keep up with them is a recipe for stress and uncertainty, none of which help right now.
  2. We are focusing on the most mission-critical work. Wikipedia is a website, but Wikimedia is a community. There’s a saying, “come for the articles, stay for the people.” We thrive on meeting in person, haggling over our future, hugging it out, and closing down every social venue in sight. We have cancelled all near-term, in-person gatherings until WHO declares this pandemic over. These were painful decisions, but essential for public health and to give everyone certainty and clarity. No need to worry if that Hyderabad summit will be on in four months, and what visa needs people might have — we can all focus on more immediate concerns.
  3. We are protecting our health. The Foundation has been a distributed-work organization for years, with 70 percent of our colleagues working outside of our main office in San Francisco. As soon as we became aware of community transmission in California, we instituted a full work-from-home protocol. Our Washington, DC, office followed within a week. Our goal was to reduce staff exposure and improve health outcomes for the communities in which we work and live.
  4. We are lightening the load. Work is not the only thing on people’s minds right now. Their families, their bills, childcare and school closures, the economy… we are all trying to manage a lot. We want to reduce the cognitive strain on our colleagues so that people could take care of themselves and stay healthy. To do that:
    • We are guaranteeing all contract and hourly workers full compensation for planned hours worked.
    • We are waiving all sick days, so staff do not have to count or use PTO.
    • We have moved to a halftime work expectation.

How long will the Wikimedia Foundation offices remain closed?

Wikimedia Foundation's San Francisco and Washington, DC offices are closed through the end of March 2020. We will be reviewing that decision towards the end of March and determining then if it should be extended.

How long will the Wikimedia Foundation's travel be suspended?

The Wikimedia Foundation has suspended all non-essential travel until the end of April 2020. Essential travel at this time relates primarily to keeping or returning people to their home. We will be reviewing that decision at the start of April and determining then if it should be extended.