Community Capacity Development/Portuguese 2016

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This page describes the concluded capacity development pilot project in the Portuguese Wikipedia community, in Brazil.


The Wikimedia community in Brazil is large and active. In 2010, it was identified in the WMF 2010-2015 Strategy as one of the three focuses for the Foundation's "Catalyst" program. The "Catalyst" program was controversial in the Brazilian community throughout its existence, and faced significant challenges in getting community participation in its initiatives. It was terminated in late 2014.

One of the services the contractors working in the Catalyst team performed in support of the Brazilian community was communications and media relations. After the termination of the Catalyst, the Brazilian community had not picked up the slack in proactively managing proactive and reactive communications.

Additionally, the Brazilian community has historically struggled with questions of representation and legitimacy ("who gets to speak for the community?") regarding media interviews by community members. This has been a topic discussed at some length during the community consultation conducted by program officer Asaf Bartov in late 2014 in São Paulo.


During the research phase for the CCD program, the Communications capacity was identified as one particularly relevant for the Brazilian community to build. This was the focus of the CCD pilot program with the Brazilian community.

Training materials were developed in collaboration with the Communications Department at the Foundation. Communications officer Greg Varnum joined Asaf Bartov and led a weekend-long training session in São Paulo in April 2016. Greg and Asaf also consulted a local journalist, to get a better sense of Brazilian media landscape. Active editors were invited to attend the training, and funding was provided for domestic travel for interested editors outside São Paulo (a crucial element of effective work with the Brazilian community, which is distributed across multiple major cities throughout the country, and given the prohibitively expensive prices of domestic flights in the country). 16 people attended the training.

Following the training, the community was encouraged to self-organize to do more proactive and reactive communications work, e.g. to more effectively manage social media presence, to form a media response team, to publish blog posts, etc. Greg and Asaf remained available to the community for advice; however, the community managed to make much progress without turning to this channel after the training.



Funds spent (US dollars)[edit]

In addition to staff time, the following costs were associated with the program in Brazil:

  • Travel (international and domestic) and per diem allowances - ~$5400
  • Accommodation for non-local attendees - ~$1150
  • English<->Portuguese Interpreter fee - $765
  • Venue rental - ~$450
  • Food and supplies - ~$1100
  • Other fees - ~$250

Approximate total cost excluding staff time: ~$9100


Community-reported Outcomes[edit]

  • New UG Wikimedia in Brazil website, following instructions from the community development section. It features a blog and a press section, that includes clipping, press releases and visual media. This activity is reported.
  • The development of this website has been directly connected to an increasing presence on social media, such as Facebook, Youtube, Slack and Twitter.
  • The UG Wikimedia in Brazil has established a press mailing list that is fed by reactive and proactive press releases.
  • Activities from the UG Wikimedia in Brazil on the wiki-education column at ARede Educa have been intensified.
  • An on-wiki newsletter to account to the community for activities has been set.

Qualitative interview in November 2016[edit]

This section summarizes responses given by community members Sturm, Vini 175, and Teles.

  • The opportunity was interesting; it was felt we need to catch up with other communities in this field of communications and media relations
  • We hoped training would give us a solid basis for doing more communication, and take advantage of opportunities in ways we hadn't in the past.
Reflection after the training
  • We gained a lot of missing knowledge. One example in particular was understanding the importance of passive resources for the press (e.g. the press kit)
  • The people already doing communications work got much better at it. We did not really get new people involved in the work.
  • We have been putting the knowledge into practice regularly since the training.
  • It was particularly valuable that the main trainer was an experienced Wikipedian, and not just a media professional. His experience in both realms was evident and very important.
Observed outcomes in the community
  • significant re-energizing of the community to engage in high-investment projects like the new site and curriculum development.
  • the press section in the new site "is now something we are proud of, and very useful". "It also contributes to building our identity".
  • increased confidence in pursuing this field of work.
  • it inspired attempts to work with local/regional (as distinct from national) media in some states (e.g. Bahia), but those fizzled out.
Suggested follow-up work
  • no consensus on what would be useful.
  • some think a national conference would be helpful to create more social bonds among community members
Does the CCD approach (high-contact, in-person investment by WMF in a specific community to build a specific capacity) seem worthwhile?
  • yes, it makes sense for a community like ours. We are still developing, and sometimes we get stuck and it gets very frustrating when we can't solve or make progress on some issues. So this approach is worthwhile when it can help a community get "unstuck".
  • we need a way to share this knowledge more widely, though. The in-person approach is effective for those who attended, but stronger documentation, e.g. in video, would have been good
What other capacities would you be interested in WMF offering help with?
  • Strategic planning. We seem to have circular conversations about this, and it's frustrating.
  • Technical training (Lua, bots). Though perhaps the people who have enough technical knowledge to be training in these specifics are too few to justify in-person training.
  • Maps, OpenStreetMap etc. It's very challenging to use, but there's great potential.

Conclusions and recommended next steps[edit]

  • This pilot project was successful, in that it achieved its main goal: helping the Brazilian community significantly gain confidence and skill in the discipline of communications and media relations.
    • This conclusion is supported by both the follow-up community survey and the qualitative interview.
  • While it is only one success, in one specific community, it does suggest that this capacity can be effectively taught, at least under some conditions.
    • Recommended next step #1: It is therefore worthwhile to consider offering this training to other communities that may be similarly inexperienced or struggling with this capacity. The investment would be smaller since the materials are ready, and since few countries could be as expensive as Brazil to get a significant group to the same city.
      • Some kind of capacity-building is likely to be taken up by WMF's Communications Department, based on a survey conducted in November 2016. Details will soon be posted here.
    • Recommended next step #2: some modules from the training may be worthwhile sessions to offer at regional and international movement events such as the Wikimedia Conference, IberoConf, CEE Meeting, WikiArabia, and WikiIndaba.
  • While the logistical expenses were relatively high due to the high cost of living and of domestic travel in Brazil, the investment is still tiny compared to WMF's previous investment in a contractor team in Brazil. Having terminated that largest program (the catalyst), this sort of investment in the large, active, important community in Brazil makes sense.