Community Capacity Development/On-wiki technical skills

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This page in a nutshell: Discussion of challenges and possible approaches to build community capacity regarding on-wiki technical skills


Scope[edit]

On-wiki technical skills focuses on the resources, on-wiki spaces, and peer-to-peer mentorship/help available on wiki-related technical issues, e.g. creating/updating bots, graphics, templates, Lua programming, wiki markup.

Challenges[edit]

  • Technical skills: While basic contribution on the Wikimedia projects requires familiarity with wiki markup, basic contribution typically does not require any advanced technical skills. But the projects are assisted by a wide range of technical tools and gadgets, and certain types of contribution require a technical understanding of how the projects work and interact. Many (but not all) communities have at least one or two people possessing such skills, but they are often working independently, sometimes without an easy or clear way for the rest of the community to make requests of them. Additionally, some skills are less common or harder to learn (e.g. Lua scripting; deep familiarity with Wikidata, beyond the most common uses).
  • Awareness: Many technical developments are produced each month, both by the Foundation and by organizations and individual volunteers across the movement. It is often difficult for communities to digest everything that is going on, due to the very decentralized nature of technical development in the movement, as well as time and sometimes language constraints. This lack of socialization leads to missed opportunities to benefit from existing technology, which means either less efficient work, or a duplication of work to re-invent similar tools and technologies.
  • Slowed innovation: Innovation can be slowed when there are no clear venues on a wiki to discuss technical topics, or to make technical requests. The absence of these venues or channels creates a gap between contributors with technical needs or ideas and those who could implement solutions.

Possible approaches[edit]

  • Creation of on-wiki technical coordination spaces, where they do not exist today
  • Setting up a local team to regularly translate and/or summarize WMF's (and general movement) Tech News in the local language.
  • Identifying volunteers interested in broadening their technical skills, and pairing them with mentors from WMF or other communities, to better integrate with the global tech spaces and channels
  • In-depth conversation with interested communities on their current tech practices and tech needs, with an emphasis on automation, tracking, and evaluation needs (rather than on desired major features like a cross-wiki watchlist). Identification of these major tech needs would be followed by prioritization by community and evaluation within WMF.
    • If those needs can be addressed with existing solutions, focus on communicating, documenting, translating, or teaching relevant information about existing solutions.
    • For those sufficiently-impactful needs that are possible to address with a reasonable investment of effort, see if they can be worked into an existing WMF team's workplan (particularly via the new Community Tech team). If not possible, alternative actions could be: collaboration with an interested volunteer developer from the wider movement, development via an Individual Engagement Grant (IEG).

Sketch of a possible capacity-building project[edit]

Challenge

Lack of volunteers familiar with [some technology] (e.g. Mediawiki API; Wikidata architecture; bot frameworks; Lua templating)

Goals
Ensure the community has a handful of people familiar with [a technology]
Key Steps
  1. Gather volunteers with existing technical background interested in training in additional skills
  2. Arrange online or in-person training or coaching
  3. Integrate new volunteers with existing tech communities
  4. Create local-language coordination space for requests and discussion of [a technology]
Timeline
3-4 months
Means and resources
1. WMF assistance in arranging training or mentorship; 2. WMF funding for travel for in-person training, if any.
Evaluation
  1. Before and after surveys of community understanding and confidence regarding [a technology] use
  2. Follow-up after 9 months to assess degree of use of new knowledge, and effectiveness of local space.

Resources[edit]

Below is a list of resources that is not comprehensive. Please add any resources you have found useful or help curate this list!

Learning Patterns[edit]

Below is a sample of learning patterns on this topic. Search the Learning Pattern library for other learning patterns on the topic.

Case studies[edit]

  • (none yet)

Add your ideas

References[edit]


Interested communities[edit]

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The Wikimedia Foundation is interested in assisting interested communities in building on-wiki technical skills, for instance through training, mentorship, help integrating with existing developer communities, and funding for technical events.


Sign up below if you are interested in implementing this in your local community: