Amical Wikimedia/Strategy Meetup 2019
On 7 September 2019 Amical Wikimedia organised a community open meet-up to discuss the Working Group recommendations for the current Wikimedia 2030 strategy process. This page is a document presented by Amical Wikimedia Board with the conclusions of the discussion.
- A global network of Wikimedia advocates is built on community driven rules of engagement. Processes for decision making are known and comprehensible. There are established entry points for those who want to be involved or want to initiate advocacy activities
For us, this is common sense, due the fact our affiliate has a great alignment with our online community. We have legitimacy when doing public appearances and advocacy because we are not only affiliate representatives, but also editors. We recommend to other affiliates that they include more online editors in their structures, to avoid the problem of lacking legitimacy (like in the recent European copyright blackout). This should be a step previous to the implementation of this recommendation. The European case proves the need of a structure when dealing with such cases.
- Community actively seeks and provides a good environment and tailored pathways that attracts more people from a variety and diversity of languages and cultural backgrounds to engage in advocacy for Wikimedia on a local or global level
Advocacy in some contexts may be tough. Is it a good idea to be open in those contexts? Is the solution doing an advocacy that doesn't contradict local governments? Is 'light advocacy' more inclusive? We don't have many answers, but we do agree with locally tailored solutions. How do we match up freedom of speech with locally tailored solutions in contexts where freedom of speech can endanger our community?
3. Global conversation
- There is an established communication process for community advocates to have central conversations about advocacy
Based on our experience in European copyright, we agree. We like the idea that things can be done without resources (but support is always needed). We fear an overdocumentation of the processes.
4. Knowledge management
- There is constant knowledge management about methods, cases, success stories, and failures for all advocates to access and learn from, processed and maintained by, with and for them
As in the previous point, we fear an overdocumentation of the process.
5. Advocacy Hub
- Movement advocacy efforts are streamlined and reinforced by a hub run with and for current and future advocates
We think that this is a pretty accurate description of Meta-Wiki (or what it should be, at least). We agree on the fact that some advocacy issues are global or regional and wider hubs are needed. However, we fear the creation of too many intermediate infrastructures that would lead to a bureaucratical or gigantic WMF (see criticism to Roles and Responsabilities, specially the Quotiel model).
6. Common positioning
- The advocacy priorities of the Wikimedia movement are clearly articulated through a shared, highly visible and living document
We thought this already existed. A living document is great, but who controls the document? If a centralized infrastructure such as the WMF 'controls' the goals, advocacy would be controlled by their needs, not the community ones. Same for advocacy funding. Whoever funds that will drive the advocacy.
Rules and regulations, decision making processes and leadership
- Conflict prevention
Sounds good, but there are some worries; Someone who made a mess with the Fram situation can't give us lessons about how to deal with conflicts without expecting at least some reservations.
We support health support and Trust and safety, but there are doubts about its implementation. Community members with health issues are like sick parents —we can't abandon them.
There were some comments about "Wikipedia addicts", because when servers fall some users have abstinence syndrome. Mostly jokes, but sincere worries.
There are limits for Wikipedia community functionaries but the document doesn’t talk about limits for functionaries within the WMF structures.
Again, it looks like nobody knows about Meta, which could completely work as the recommended knowledge-wide platform. there should be more investment on the product, improving talk pages, but don't abandon products.
Having a long-time admin retiring is good when they assume new goals and improve other projects (it worked in cawiki). They become users with an admin point of view. It is also a good idea for diversity. We found out that longtime admins and patrollers make good tutors.
About leadership: How can we assure the renewal of leaders? We need an environment that assures that. Community Health should work on what happens when long time leaders feel that the project is theirs and are afraid that if they leave it would sink.
- Redefining formal and informal power
Limitation of mandates: why is the recommendation talking about on-wiki positions only? With the exception of the ArbCom, WMF positions have lengthy mandates that are extended (even though there are enough candidates), which creates the opposite situation to the requested one in this recommendation. We also want to note that there are problems with small wikis that only have a few volunteers to be administrators and wouldn't be able to handle renewal.
In the case of the affiliates, there may also be cases where those who direct them are always the same people, creating problems of lack of representativeness due to non-renewal. It is feared that the protection of those in a situation of risk leads to accountabilty problems. Once again, we fear of an increase in the bureaucracy of the movement.
- Code of conduct
There are worries that a global code would have to be forcefully accepted in every local community/project. A solution would be to have a global one with the option to make a particular code adapted to context that would override the general one while keeping it compatible in values with the general. If there is no local code, the global one must be applied.
We think that it could be dangerous if a global code of conduct evolves into a path to punish criticism. We don't think that WMF is still able to make deep changes in its structure.
Community diversity and growth
Some new users leave Wikipedia when 'their article' gets a lot of templates. Maybe we should also create a culture of 'templates are not bad', because otherwise the quality of the project could be harmed. We agree on empowering oral tradition and colonized societies, so they have the strength to share their knowledge.
- Building an inclusive global community
There are worries of generating a lot of recommendations and documentation. One member has the opposite worry: that after the harmonization phase every document will become too light. Do we need a 70-page tutorial to participate in a Community? Maybe in our wiki, where most of us know each other, a less bureaucratical tool would work better. We already have informal roles —if somebody is 'that way', they won't change because of a tutorial.
We wonder which technical consequences would appear with the ability to edit via Tor. There is already the option of editing via Tor using tickets to request a special user right. We wonder which difficulties or barriers the current system creates. We agree on the creation of a partnership with Tor to research about this.
Agile and responsive support of community health
Aligning resources with Community Health could be a excuse to deny grants to those users who are more critical with WMF or the movement, and we don't want that. It is a danger. We agree with sustainable growth and not flooding emerging communities (or any community) with funds. In which order do we break barriers? Better to learn before having funds. We want to invest in Global South... for what? To have more users and content from there, to empower those communities, to make access for knowledge more easy in those communities? We do agree in investing in technology, when hearing the community needs and with them in mind.
Roles and responsabilities
- 1. Power and responsibilities need to be redistributed on the principle of self management (subsidiarity)
- 2. Decisions should be taken at the “lowest” possible level / as near as possible to the process/community/activity that will be affected by the decision
We agree. The WMF cannot influence communities because they are far away from them. Product innovation fails because communities feel that those developments have been done without them in mind. So, feedback from community is needed.
Decisions should be done by the community when possible. Organizations representing the movement should be elected by the communities in order to keep their representativity.
- 3. To establish a framework for decision-making, there will be a charter of principles, values, and governance behaviours. The charter will be developed through an equitable process with broad and diverse participation.
We agree. It is compatible with all the demands of clear rules and clear marks in all other Working Groups. Movement Governance should be formed by a fully elected body.
- 4. This charter will be owned by a global governance and accountability body
We don't understand the expression 'owned by'. We want a fully elected body everywhere. Accountability always sounds great. But we need more details about the process.
- 5. All of this exists to support our primary purpose
- free knowledge and its distribution
We agree. And we shouldn't be reminding which are our goals.
- 7. Capacity building, facilitation, coaching, leadership development will be built into these structures to enable all entities to develop at their speed and this will be supported by staff
If staff is needed, that means that the day that there is no money, that project won't be self-sustainable. Do we really have so much Capacity Building needs? The WMF is going to become the corporation with more human resources in the world. Wikimedia Affiliates already work in most countries of Europe and some American Countries, which specific Capacity Building needs are there?
We don't 'clearly' need paid staff for sharing experiences and coaching volunteers. Will we have professional coaches going around the world? Will formation to participate in the Wikimedia Movement last more than a University Degree? How much people, how much time is 'clearly'?
- Situla model
Most of the problems found in Quotiel are found here. Points 1-2 advocate for decentralization but the Volunteer community has no links to Teams (affiliates). This responds to the reality that we have nowadays, but should not be our objective in an ambitious 2030 plan.
If we ignore the volunteers (who aren't linked to any structure in this model), we find an inverted pyramid. The Global Council (WMF Board) supervises Basic Support System (WMF), WMF grows with Back offices (regional? see Quotiel criticisms) who have paid coaches to serve affiliates, now renamed as teams. Teams are not linked to volunteers who create the projects.
The inverted pyramid is the opposite to the decentralization that has been demanded. Besides, feedback from community demanded less dependence of WMF and in this model the 'Teams' (affiliates) have a new superstructure they depend.
Global Council is participated by volunteers but also by the members of the offices and teams who depend of the same Global Council. So, the Global Council can influence into the bodies who (partially) elect them.
Are teams (now Affiliates) independent of what nowadays is the WMF? Where do the coaches appear from? Are they independent? Who pays them, the Back Office or the Global Council?
Once again, this model is not flexible, neither is Quotiel. We have worries about the election system and how representative is this hierarchical model.
- Quotiel model
Global Governing Body should be elected by the online community, users, volunteers... elected, not appointed.
This model is incompatible with the recommendations of the same Working Group. Points 1-2 stand for decentralization and decisions done close to the communities. This model is like a pyramid, where new structures are created.
From a model of WMF and affiliates, we go to a model with at least two intermediate bodies. For a random wikimedian, this means that he elects representatives for his affiliate, that the affiliate sends representatives to a regional hub, and that regional hub elects representatives for Global Body. GGB is formed by hub representatives, so there is a risk that GGB would only respond to the regional Hub and ignore the lower layers of the pyramid. What happens if regional elected representatives find themselves in the middle of nationalistic/interest/power struggles?
Local organizations have a great dependency of other structures (regional hubs, support structures), so the objective of the less dependence of WMF is not accomplished.
This model does not adapt to local context. We are a Thematical organization, and the only 2 thematical organizations in our movement have nothing in common to make a thematic support structure necessary. Which is Amical's Regional Structure? Iberocoop? Europe? Spain? Do we have the same local context than Latin America or Europe? Does our language have the same context that Basque or Spanish?
Emphasizing in such rigid regional structures in an internet-related project might create more problems than it solves.
One particular user linked this diagram, which is dangerously similar to the proposed system, with regional institutions that embody autonomous areas, provinces etc. We don't want to make demagogic statements, it is a very common structure in 20th century organizations, but not so interesting for the 21th where hierarchical organizations have been substituted for more decentralized models.
- Elgafar model
The governance body is partially elected, but we want it fully elected, not appointed.
We like the horizontal model. The formal and informal Organized Movement Groops adapt to local context, as was demanded by the community.
The governance support groups are equivalent to Hubs and Back offices in the other models. They support the decentralized Organized Movement Groups, who support both partners and Communities. It has the advantages of the other two models, but it is more decentralized, it adapts better to local contexts, and creates less bureaucracy.
1. Building Capacity for Capacity Building
We don't like the point about staff. If we can have a community with only one person as staff, why can't they do the same? If our experts in wikidata/outreach/advocacy/tech are volunteers, why do they need staff? Should 'volunteers' who make a workshop receive money for this? We don't think so.
Not every capacity building in the global south needs investing money. WMF should invest in research about volunteering. After all, the WMF exists thanks to volunteers, not the other way around.
2. Matching human assets and online knowledge resources with capacity building needs
It sounds like Meta-wiki with a phone call center. Do we need staff/human support for Capacity Building? A Peer system can be created, but it doesn't need a 24 h available team.
Before the Basque User group was created, we shared our experiences with them. They didn't look for a central authority.
The idea of support groups for every WG needs to exist, but Capacity Building is maybe the least necessary, and their proposal is the most expensive.
There is a proposal of a Hub, that should be the place to Build Capacity Building. Mentorship to volunteers/staff already exists, we can adapt existing structures.
3. Capacity Building Should Occur in Context
We agree with decentralization and context.
One-time training may not be enough, but if there are affiliates in one place, they are already assuming those roles. They can receive adapted and personalized training.
Peer system could be better than top-down. If on a regional scale we are able to create a culture of sharing, we can cover wide training needs. Not every regional scale is closed. One community can be part of several regional contexts.
4. Provide Capacity Building for Organizational Development. Or: Supporting communities in achieving their organizational development goals
If the document was written by volunteers, it is hard to say that relying on us is complicated.
Scale and avoiding burnouts is needed, but that's a Community Health issue. It is possible to build capacities in a volunteer-based movement in a wider way than we have nowadays.
We agree to decentralize. There is not a single way of organizing, and decentralization also means to rely on the base of the movement, volunteers.
5. Resources for Capacity Building
Measure community engagement.
Ok to avoid paternalistic grant. If we link funding to success rate, it will make it unavoidable for staff to collaborate and rely on volunteers, to multiply our forces.
What does 'offer grants specifically for Capacity Building' mean?
6. Evaluating Capacity Building
How do you measure the contribution to the infraestructure of the ecosystem?
Metrics are needed, but demanding metrics about everything is sometimes useless. What happens if two affiliates choose different criteria about Capacity Building? (ex. number of projects vs. number of volunteers engaged).
We have experience of doing reports that were considered too long. This recomendation proposes more metrics. Who is going to read them? We have a lot of doubts.
7. Online Training
We could use Wikibooks+Metawiki. Those demands are for the WMF, and can be done by adapting existing tools.
8. Mentoring and leadership development
Our experience says that leaders that have left is because of Community Health issues. Improving Health will improve our retention.
If we invest in generation but not in retention, everything will fail again and again. It is great to identify the problem of the lack of renovation in leaderships, linked with the lack of renovation in the editor community.
9. Recognizing Individuals
We don't dislike the idea of redistribution. But economical support already exists in Amical: we have the rule that a volunteer activity doesn't cost money to our volunteers.
We are the kind of community who idealized volunteers: we give as much resources needed to a volunteer to develop a volunteer activity. But never paid editing. In flesh or in cash. Never. We support barnstars and small prices like a wikicontest. And our prizes are books. If computers are needed, local affiliates should be the receiver and keeper of the needed tool.
10. Independently governed Capacity Building ‘Unit’
We like the idea of independent units. All units should be elected and voted by the community to ensure that the volunteer community feels represented by them. One of the biggest problems in the Wikimedia Movement is the fact that online communities don't feel represented by affiliates and WMF.
We don't agree with the need of a Capacity Building unit with a new infraestructure. We can work with a Hub in MetaWiki or a new website to share experiences and to provide formation when needed. We prefer a tailored response for CB rather than a big new unit.
Note: Thanks to the presence of a member of this Working Group in the meet up, we were able to discuss the new recommendations instead of the old ones.
Introducing people-centered principles within the Wikimedia movement
We believe it is right to think about the user while improving the platform, but we miss recommendations aimed at improving participation, inclusion and diversity of participants in the governance structures of the movement.
We have doubts about communities understanding the need to improve inclusion, as they are comfortable in the current situation and are in the phase of expanding content.
It is found that WMF and some affiliates are seen as agents outside the community. No one feels the WMF as their own, and the changes from top to bottom have no acceptance. The way in which brand-name change to Wikipedia is being done does not help to create trust. We doubt Ombudsman can be effective if they come 'on behalf of the WMF'.
The change in culture may not be accepted by communities, conservative by nature, and where people are comfortable with the current system, even if those changes leave some people outside. The non-existence of channels to improve inclusion makes that users concerned about the lack of diversity on the platforms to have no way of articulating possible improvements.
Inclusion must be done for something. We must also think if we open ourselves, for whom we do. Repeating 'diversity' as an empty word will not make them even more inclusive.
We are people in permanent learning with an objective that is the sum of all the free knowledge. Until we get it, we will not stop. To sum people to the movement, we need to have this philosophy.
1.1. A Framework that Supports Partnerships
Which are suitable partners in the Free Knowledge Ecosystem?
Google, Microsoft, Facebook? The Framework should prioritize institutions who work for real Free Knowledge, like Mozilla or Creative Commons. Community, both here and in other conversations, wants barriers and clear cases when partnering with for-profit institutions who work with private software like Google. We must know which are the limits, and if We partner with them, they should release the results for free and with free licenses.
Partnerships should occur in the local context when possible. It would be a mistake that, when most recommendations ask for adaptation in the local context, that WMF or a global entity would create big partnerships from top to bottom. If applied ignoring local communities, it can harm relationships between local communities and global movement structures.
1.3. Partnerships as part of a Distributed Vision
To cooperate is a good idea when the vision is shared. That implies that partners must understand Wikimedia vision and collaborative, volunteer projects.
Opt-in/Opt-out clauses should be implemented when negotiating such partnerships. We have a lot of doubts about the possibility of having an external partner as a thematic hub for Wikimedia movement. To release data in Commons or Wikidata is not being part of Wikimedia movement, We have values broader than 'just editing' or using certain platforms.
1.5. Define priorities for partnerships so that all key aspects of building the free knowledge ecosystem are covered
Checkpoints should be recomendations. Centralizing is incomptabile with point 3 of the recommendations of this very group. All priorities and Central documents proposed in every WG, should be defined in an open process with participation of the editing community.
1.6. A single point of entry for partners to engage with Wikimedia
Unified entry point: Incompatible with decentralization. We disagree with the assumption made: in our experience with GLAM, all of the partners were able to find us.
We don't believe that bigger partners interested on Wikipedia are unable to find WMF or any other affiliate. To contact with WMF should be as easy as sending an e-mail. The main website of Wikimedia Foundation has a section clearly visible to contact them with a business@ e-mail account. We can't believe that a new entity (with budget and staff) should be created to receive an e-mail.
If that wasn't the proposal, please, redo the text. We'll be glad to read it.
2.1. A central infrastructure for content partnerships requiring technical solutions
When doing GLAM, Any technical doubt is solved by the WiR. If the WiR doesn't has the knowledge, he may ask the affiliate he partners with. If they can't do it, they can ask the community.
We don't understand what problem does this adress. If there are problems that only few people can solve (like Magnus might be), then We should invest in CB.
A new infraestructure to adress dobuts that community should solve isn't needed. Invest in CB.
Great. We don't reinvent the wheel. Shared vision means understanding online community. Examples given (Open Street Maps) show the way.
A problem of our community is that We don't have many crossfeeding with other technical communities.
2.3. Partnership framework for harnessing modern technological developments
As said before, our community doesn't has many crossfeeding with other technical communities. Solving that is good. The assumption that we offer visibility instead of product is true. And that Wikipedia might have less visibility in the future is also true. Maybe we should be creating our own Siri. After all, it relies in Wikidata!
2.6. Develop Capacity Building Modules for running partnership
As said before (again), some of the proposals asking for investment and creation of infrastructure can be solved with more CB and not so much extra expense, so great proposal. The proposal thinks on individual and volunteers as partnerships agents. It is good to read that somebody thinks in the community and its members.
3.2. Recognition. Encourage proper attribution for content donations so institutions working with us are proud of their contribution and are acknowledged for their contribution
Attribution problems are known, so solutions are welcome.
Our doubt comes when recognizing: How? We don't want paid editing. Barnstars, blog posts, tweets... that's ok.
Which donations do we recognize? If we 'reward' economic donations, we might endanger our independence and credibility. About 'giving thanks' to a partner for donating a lot of content, it is ok. But not in exchange of money.
3.4. Documentation as a priority, not an afterthought, ending a barrier to participation and capturing our methodology and instructions in formats accessible for our global audiences
We don't believe that lack of documentation of previous cases is a barrier to new partnerships. It may help to grow (and every WG asks for more documentation) but this is not a barrier.
Product & Technology
Decentralize. Fear about outsourcing. Good to have community feedback and a core point of the product process. We want more people working on codebase. Fears about interest conflict.
2. Support Community Decisionmaking
We are worried that every WG asks for dedicated teams for things that don't need so many people. Invest in community selfgovernance is ok. And the failure of the mailist as a communication tool is real, too. With Wikis, Meta, list, Wikimedia space, phabricators, etc... We have a dispersion of communication tools.
3. Open up Product Governance
We agree with the reasoning. Community tech ambassadors don't work.
WMF/Product should come closer to communities. In Catalan we have the tech ambassadors inactive, but our community is not so reactive against changes because our online community is close to our Affiliate and there is some trust.
Trust and self-recognition is another key point in this (good) idea.
4. Deployment Council
We don't know if a council is the answer, but it is true that the lack of channels for feedback results in users boycotting advances as the only way to protest against changes that they see from up to bottom because nobody asked them.
Amical Way and trust and self-recognition between affiliates and online communities should be taken into consideration when studying this.
Using Beta for new developments so users could test before being implemented could be great. Let them play before implementation.
5. Tech Evangelism
It already exists but it doesn't work. If it doesn't work, then new ideas should be tried. More people without reimagining is not a solution.
6. New Developer Engagement Models
8. Emerging Technology Ethics Advisory Panel
Good to have volunteers and editors in the Panel. WMF Staff and 3rd parties are those who need the most feedback from editors and volunteers.
Indeed, editors and volunteers should be advisory in every Panel and project in the Wikimedia movement.
9. Monitoring Product and Societal Impacts
It would be interesting to engage academia in this. We don't need a big entity, but partnering with academical third parties.
A. Common Framework of Principles for Resource Allocation
In general terms, writing is a bit agressive here.
Point 1: How to "restore" equity if it is the place we want to Go? If equity is our objective, then our depart point is a scenario where there is no equity to restore
We are concerned about point 2: either it is a too restrictive view of what the movement is, or it is a vision too intrusive in the activity of volunteers. A little far-fetched
Point 8, paragraph 1: we believe that the alignment should stick to the vision of the Wikimedia community and not the vision of wiki-community+ strategic direction. There may be affiliates or users who do not completely agree, for example. Are they excluded from the allocation of resources?
Point 8, section 2: it can generate contradictory situations depending on which contexts
C. Avoiding the pitfalls of privileges / Designing for diversity
We agree on the identification of the current situation and problems we have, but we are not sure how to resolve them.
Work must be done to avoid the “bus factor” (if a bus kills one member, then your community cannot do the things that member did) and the high costs on a voluntary staff level that are devoted to tasks of greater responsibility.
Many approaches in the theorical level are good, but we must see how they are implemented, because a bad implementation could lead to the invalidation of the proposal.
H. Allocate resources to new types of partners/organisations (essential infrastructure of the free knowledge ecosystem)
We see a danger in this proposal: in the last years a lot of User Groups appeared. They didn’t have many members, but had access to funding. This can potentially lead to a “beach bar” situation, where every wikimedian could create their own user group just to have access to funding without much control. This proposal doesn’t solve the problem, it could even make it bigger.
1. Turn the Wikimedia API into a revenue source
We are unsure about the heavy usage of the Wikimedia API. Data or some research would be appreciated as a foundation for the recommendation.
The concept of "large enterprises" sounds a bit too subjective to us.
How can we ensure knowledge equity while commecialisating the API?
2. Create a global support function for local affiliate fundraising
We support greater economic independence and the technical empowerment and expertise of the communities to achieve it
However, not everything can be solved with technology. There are local particularities (subsidies, declarations of public utility, exemptions of taxes, etc.) that only depend on the members and their "awareness" of the situation.
3. Monetize Merchandise
We feel the recommendation lacks enough detail.
We support promoting free knowledge ecosystem and favouring the presence of third parties that eventually return the results of their activity to the movement without falling into parasitic dynamics.
We believe WMF should not take this responsibility directly.
5. Develop non-fundraising revenue streams for affiliates
We see well that this recommendation should be addressed, but we are not sure that all the members can carry it out taking into account their current situation (for example, us).
We are concerned about the possible conflict of interests and ethical conflicts that may arise in this type of initiative. We are also concerned that the suggested models are difficult to apply depending on which contexts or territories.
7. Set a goal of financial independence for all movement actors
We think it desirable, as long as approaches are framed in logics of sustainable growth.
Care must be taken with the possible vices of economic or budgetary management, which can lead to inequality situations between affiliates when it comes to supporting less-favored affiliates or in situations of greater difficulty.
8. Diversification of revenue channel
It seems logical and reasonable, although it would be good to know what can be done to get donations, beyond the mechanisms to achieve them.
There would be a deep reflection on the ethics of the mechanisms to obtain donations.
9. Movement wide principles for Revenue Streams
Perhaps this one should be in the first position in the list of recommendations.