Communications/Wikimedia brands/2030 research and planning/community review/results
From February to May 2019, the Wikimedia Foundation Communications team collected community feedback on a proposal for the future of the Wikimedia brand system. The proposal included detailed research on current brand positioning, and recommended dropping the “Wikimedia” name to center the movement’s brand system on “Wikipedia” its strongest brand.
Sharing the full proposal was a critical step to understand community perspectives on the suggestions, and evaluate how/if further movement brand adjustments should be made. Here, you can find the results of this 4 month consultation.
- 1 Reach and Response
- 2 Themes in feedback
- 2.1 Reducing confusion
- 2.2 Protecting reputation
- 2.3 Supporting the sister projects
- 2.4 Legal risks
- 2.5 Supporting movement growth
- 2.6 The process of change
- 3 Methodology
- 4 Limits/gaps
Reach and Response
|Affiliate discussion||via email||on Meta-Wiki|
|Reach||122 affiliates||14 mailing lists (9,066 registered subscribers)||9,078 page views of review talk page|
|Response||63 affiliates (52% rate)||38 unique responders||106 contributors|
|Positions||24 support, 6 oppose||7 support, 12 oppose||13 support, 45 oppose|
(*) There were also 9,880 unique pageviews on the blog post announcing the proposal and consultation
|Share widely with community||Reach 80% of affiliates||✓ 82% of affiliates|
|Collect feedback from many perspectives||100+ comments from
|✓ 319+ comments
✓ 63 groups, 150+ users
|Measure community appetite
|20% of affiliates support
Less than 20% of informed community oppose
|✓ 38% of reviewing affiliates support
✓ 0.6% of informed oppose (57 users oppose of ~9,000 reached)
Note: KPIs are based on the benchmarks established in planning for our consultation.
Themes in feedback
More than 319 individual comments were shared on the brand proposal. Some came as simple “+1” agreements, while other comments offered detailed notes on behalf of large community groups.
In reviewing the comments, the project team first separated topics between support and opposition to the proposal. We then realized that many of these positions were actually polarities around shared topics. Restructuring the feedback, we identified 6 key thematic feedback areas for assessing community perspectives on branding.
|Theme||Summary of theme||Popularity|
|Reduce confusion||Movement names are closely related and cause confusion. Will changes resolve confusion or make things worse?||✎✎✎✎✎✎✎|
|Protect reputation||Wikipedia has a range of reputations worldwide. Will change “hijack” good reputation? Will bad reputation limit trust in sister projects?||✎✎✎✎✎✎|
|Support the sister projects||Current branding indicates a system of projects. How, explicitly, will using Wikipedia improve understanding/use of sister projects?||✎✎✎✎✎|
|Legal risks||Current branding distinguishes movement from projects, protecting affiliates from potential legal risk for Wikipedia content.||✎✎✎✎|
|Support movement growth||Branding should directly aid movement understanding, participation, and growth worldwide.||✎✎✎✎|
|Process of change||Is it "too late" for change to Movement branding? Or is "now the time" to invite new volunteers with branding change?||✎✎|
(**) Popularity is ranked based on the theme’s frequency in feedback. One pencil (✎) = mentioned once or twice. Seven pencils = mentioned in nearly all comments.
Popularity of the theme: ✎✎✎✎✎✎✎
Reducing confusion analysis
The desire to distinguish who does what in the movement was the most frequent comment in the consultation. Volunteers are eager to reduce confusion about the Movement and to have a “simple” way to explain things accurately.
There is a tension between the acknowledgment that Wikimedia is a confusing name that the public never understands and a group of commenters who believe that Wikimedia’s confusion creates opportunity for informative dialog.
A further tension acknowledged was that changing the meaning of Wikipedia would itself create new confusions and this must be considered/managed in any change.
Popularity of the theme: ✎✎✎✎✎✎
Protecting reputation analysis
There was no dispute that Wikipedia is a well-known, even “world class” brand. But there is tension between some volunteers who feel Wikipedia’s reputation is still connected to unreliable, untrustworthy content and those who see the reliability of Wikipedia content so “above” the sister projects that it cannot be shared.
Among those who believe Wikipedia has a strong reputation, there is a second polarity between those who see that reputation as an asset to be leveraged for the movement’s mission, and those who warn against “hijacking” the Wikipedia brand. In particular, voices wary of “brand theft” are particularly keen to not let the Foundation take the Wikipedia name, as they feel this will further the encyclopedia project’s sense of continued exploitation.
Supporting the sister projects
Popularity of the theme: ✎✎✎✎✎
Supporting sister projects analysis
In its current format, the brand proposal offers little demonstrable evidence for how a central Wikipedia brand would empower the other projects. Many respondents noted this. Some could see the immediate benefit of shared branding as a way to share trust and association, while others felt certain that with Wikipedia in the top billing, other projects would be even less visible and differentiable.
There was little defense of Wikimedia as a branding system that successfully supported the sister projects. At best supporters said Wikimedia offered a chance to explain the name (and thus movement/sister projects OTHER than Wikipedia) and allowed a “spirit” of the Movement to be differentiated from a single project.
Most volunteers expressed interest in precisely how Wikipedia would be used to elevate the sister projects and asked to see/hear more about these approaches when/if they are drafted.
Popularity of the theme: ✎✎✎✎
Legal risks analysis
Among critics of the branding proposal, legal risks to volunteers were often cited as a key deterrent to change. Community groups and individual contributors offered many examples of being confronted by governments/authorities for content on Wikipedia.
The obscurity and semantic differentiation of Wikimedia have been perceived aids to managing legal risk. How, respondents asked, can community groups USE the stature of Wikipedia as a brand while maintaining their distance from content authorship?
Other respondents did note that Wikipedia is an aid to legal situations, especially in applying for visas/traveling internationally. There, Wikipedia’s prominence allows government reviewers to increase trust in the traveler.
Supporting movement growth
Popularity of the theme: ✎✎✎✎
Supporting movement growth analysis
For a Movement-wide branding change to be “worth it” there must be a clear impact to movement growth. Respondents debated whether generic “infrastructure” names would better serve the movement strategy than “repurposing” Wikipedia. Some argued that only by using Wikipedia as our invitation would the movement be relevant to new users/contributors/donors, especially in emerging markets. Many felt Wikipedia was indeed the tool to use, but acknowledged that its meaning would need to be considerably expanded and redefined.
A key observation was that the community “spirit” of Wikimedia, with its values of openness and collaboration, must be maintained at the center of our movement. In addition, Wikipedia must be made more inviting as a brand and technology system if it is to truly signal and support movement growth.
The process of change
Popularity of the theme: ✎✎
Process of change analysis
There is a tension in community feedback around the timing of this change. Established Wikimedians, speaking entirely on Wikimedia-l, feel that this change would have been good in the past, but it is now “too late.” Emerging communities, offering feedback in affiliate meetings, feel that movement strategy offers us the time to change, and that decisions made without global voices should be reconsidered as the movement becomes more diverse.
Other respondents simply asked that community groups get to opt in/out of whatever brand decisions are made. These requests were met with further disagreement as some explained “brand lives from uniformity. If there are many exceptions, then it does not work.”
This report offers a view on community feedback to the Wolff Olins brand proposal dated November 2018. Feedback was collected from 3 primary channels: Meta-Wiki (via a dedicated talk page), email (via messages shared to email@example.com), and meetings with affiliate reps (both in-person and online). Comments were collected in Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Italian, German, and French and all translated into English for review.
Feedback review took place over 2 weeks at the end of May 2019. Individual and affiliate positions were scored, if possible, to indicate if they were explicitly opposed or in support of the proposal. Comments were excerpted from feedback documents for clustering in digital whiteboarding sessions. This qualitative analysis is meant to guide decision-making about brand refinement, not to offer a “vote” or formal scoring of topics.
A look at the affiliate engagement map shows a wide international range of perspectives, with some concerning gaps. East Asia, especially China and Japan, offered no formal response to this proposal. Turkish community members were also not part of this consultation. Given the Turkish government’s attacks on Wikipedia we consider their perspectives critical. We recommend addressing these consultation gaps in any further brand refinement.
In addition, we had very comments from Brazil and Russia. These critical growth regions, with active volunteers, are essential to movement growth and should engaged more deeply in future discussions.
This 4-month consultation was completed in collaboration between the Communications Department and the Community Relations team in Community Engagement. In particular, we would like to acknowledge the leadership of Elena Lappen, who maintained our on-wiki outreach and gave us strategic direction on how best to prep our materials for Wikimedians.
On the Communications team, work was led by Samir Elsharbaty, Blanca Flores, and Zack McCune with executive support from Heather Walls. Samir traveled for more than 4 weeks to share this proposal with affiliates, visiting Spain, India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. Blanca traveled to the Iberoconf event in Santiago Chile. Heather Walls and Zack McCune traveled to Sweden, Norway, the UK, and Germany to collect feedback at multiple events.