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Whose Knowledge?
summaryBuilding a base for a global campaign to create, collect and curate knowledge from and with marginalised communities.
targetAll projects and languages, with a focus on Wikipedia, Commons, Wikisource
type of grantonline programs and events
amount$47,840 USD
contact• siko@whoseknowledge.org• anasuya@whoseknowledge.org
this project needs...
created on18:45, 29 September 2016 (UTC)

Project idea[edit]

What is the problem you're trying to solve?[edit]

The internet, including Wikipedia as a primary hub, has become the default option for accessing information (particularly for young people and the world’s elite decision-makers), but knowledge from women, people of color, the global South, and other marginalised communities remains significantly underrepresented. Online knowledge today tends to be even more of a global North, white, straight, male production than knowledge-at-large.

Using Wikipedia as a proxy indicator of freely available online knowledge, we know that only 20% of the world (primarily white male editors from North America and Europe) edits 80% of Wikipedia currently, and estimate that only 1 or 2 in 10 of the editors is self-identified female.[1][2] Studies by Mark Graham and colleagues at the Oxford Internet Institute have found that 84% of Wikipedia articles focus on Europe and North America,[3] and most articles written about the global South are still written by those in the global North, so that even where content is present, skewed representations remain.[4]

Though different community-led projects have begun addressing systemic bias - and we are deeply appreciative of all their efforts - most efforts do not not involve marginalised communities themselves in the mapping of knowledge gaps and resources about them. In addition, the creation and improvement of content on these communities is often not led by the communities themselves. For example, redlink lists created by Wikipedians are hugely valuable, but Wikipedians are constrained by their own paradigms and experiences of knowledge systems, in terms of what kinds of redlink lists they create, and how diverse they are. Until the Wikipedia community is far more diverse than it currently is, this problem cannot be solved by Wikipedians in isolation.

What is your solution?[edit]

Whose Knowledge? is a global multilingual campaign aimed at correcting the skewed representations of knowledge and information currently accessible on Wikipedia and the broader internet. We connect and support individuals, communities, organisations and movements worldwide to create, collect, curate and openly share knowledge from and with marginalised communities, particularly women, people of color, LGBTQI communities, indigenous peoples and others from the global South.

Whose Knowledge? aims to:

  1. support and empower marginalised people, groups and communities to decide what knowledge they want to contribute to the world’s online repositories (including Wikipedia), by intentionally facilitating a process of mapping marginalised knowledge that is designed and led by the marginalised communities themselves.
  2. facilitate partnerships between marginalised communities and Wikipedians, in which the mapping of these knowledge gaps can lead to significant content creation, improvement and curation, on Wikipedia and sister projects.
  3. encourage and expand sharing and adaption of tools and methodologies among different marginalised communities to build a sustainable process in which marginalised communities lead their own knowledge mapping and creation processes, with a strong grounding in understanding Wikipedia and its sister projects.

This six month project proposal will focus on conducting research with two specific communities and networks to pilot tools and methodologies and develop and document a working model for:

  1. mapping marginalized communities’ knowledge - both gaps and opportunities (including existing sources) - through empowering, participatory processes where communities map their own knowledge instead of Wikipedians doing it on behalf of a given community or topic;
  2. turning qualitative and quantitative data obtained through this mapping into a systematised and easily accessible and searchable format for use by Wikimedians and others; and
  3. enabling creation and curation of content related to these communities on Wikipedia and sister projects, using the data made available through an accessible interface.

The two communities/networks we intend to work with are the Dalit community in India and its diaspora in the US, and women’s human rights defenders in the global South. Partnerships with two organisations and initiatives that will potentially support us with this research include Equality Labs, a technology-oriented effort led by Dalit women, and Urgent Action Fund, a funder of women’s human rights defenders worldwide.

In the longer term, we hope that groups like Equality Labs and Urgent Action Fund, with others in their own communities, are able to continue this effort in a sustainable, context-driven manner that uses and modifies the tools and methodologies created by this pilot research to systematically expand the online knowledge base of their communities.

Project goals[edit]

  • Goal 1 In partnership with community leaders and scholars, build a v1 map of existing gaps and opportunities around knowledge created by, and of, the two pilot communities: Dalits and women’s human rights defenders in the global South.
  • Goal 2 Clean up and systematise the raw mapping data into an easily searchable, editable database, with potential for language localisation and visualization of marginalized knowledges.
  • Goal 3 Support 2 edit-a-thons with the focus communities - in partnership with other individual Wikimedians and groups - to create or improve content on Wikimedia projects that are highlighted by the mapping process.

The overall aim for this 6-month project is to build and document a model that can be used, refined, and adapted for use by these and other focus communities working with Whose Knowledge? in the future, as well as by other Wikimedia groups aiming to address systemic bias in partnership with marginalized communities.

Project plan[edit]



  1. We will be researching and testing several ways of mapping existing gaps and opportunities (specifically: existing or potential sources) of knowledge.
  2. We will develop a working model for communities to map their own knowledge.

Some approaches to be tested with the 2 focus communities include:

  • surveys
  • face-to-face convenings and physical mappings
  • virtual focus group discussions and interviews

This process will be guided by a council of representatives from each community, who will ensure that our processes are empowering, thoughtful and productive, rather than (as has often been the case in the past with research of this kind) disempowering, reductive and extractive.


  1. an understanding of how these communities define “knowledge” more broadly, and more specifically, “knowledge” as it pertains to them and their communities
  2. a dataset of significant forms of this knowledge that remain missing from Wikimedia projects or the broader internet (this may include but not be limited to people, events, books, and issues for each community)
  3. a dataset of existing online and offline sources that corroborate this significance, and ideas for potential sources that need to be created more systematically.


  1. We will clean up and systematise the raw data from our mapping, with the help of our council members.
  2. We will develop a tagging scheme to enable sorting and searching data by type/topic, language and location.
  3. We will work with Wikipedia Requests to input data that is relevant to gaps on Wikipedia into this existing automated system.
  4. We will work with a designer and research advisors like Mark Graham at Oxford Internet Institute to mock-up visualizations to serve as an alternative visual front end for the data, and test them with our focus communities.

How using Wikipedia Requests helps improve our efforts:

  • Working with Wikipedia Requests will ensure that gaps and opportunities identified by our focus communities are made available to these communities when working on Wikipedia, as well as other Wikipedians and Wikiprojects already using this automated system.
  • It also ensures that the data is integrated into an existing workflow where a status is assigned to requests in order to track and prioritize action. The system already allows you to generate redlink lists on-wiki (example) and store information about articles that have identified content gaps and sources to fill those gaps (example).

How we in turn help improve Wikipedia Requests:

  • Currently Wikipedia Requests is limited to search by article/category/wikiproject, so adding in our tagging schema will in turn help improve existing search functionality for everyone using Wikipedia Requests.
  • Currently Wikipedia Requests is localizable and multilingual but has not been widely tested outside of English. With the help of our focus communities and the Whose Knowledge? user group, we can test and improve multilingual functionality and use beyond English.
  • Currently Wikipedia Requests generates lists but there is no way to visualize the data in a more engaging and accessible fashion beyond text. Using data sets from our two focus communities, we can explore visual avenues to show gaps and opportunities and test their potential to activate more communities to get involved.


  1. a database containing data from two focus communities that is easy to access, query and edit, to serve as the foundation for different forms of content creation, curation and improvement around marginalised knowledge.
  2. a mock-up of visualisations that can serve as a visually accessible front end for the database.

Content creation/improvement[edit]

  1. We will facilitate 2 edit-a-thons that test use of the database in partnership with our focus communities and fellow Wikimedians, and help create or improve content on Wikimedia sites that the communities prioritise for creation, curation and improvement.

Events will be linked to ongoing plans within our two focus communities, rather than creating new workcycles. April is Dalit History Month, for example, so we’ll focus on joining the Dalit community’s efforts with our specific initiative to improve Dalit-related content on Wikimedia during April.

The baseline we will use as a proxy indicator for this work will be the current articles on Wikipedias about the Dalit community and women human rights defenders from the global South.


  1. feedback on the usability and reliability of our pilot database and the mockup of the visualisation tool.
  2. a model for understanding the ways in which marginalised communities themselves prioritise content in need of creation and improvement [5]
  3. significant increase in the quality and quantity of content on the Dalit community and women human rights defenders from the global South.


No Category Description Total Amount
1 Design and Tech contracting design and tech to work on searchable database + visualization mocks $18,000
2 Community Organizer community organizer in India to facilitate and support Dalit community’s work on the project. 1000 usd x 6 months $6,000
3 Project Coordination the coordinators' time to run the project (including data cleanup), heavily subsidised. 1000 usd x 2 people x 6 months $12,000
4 Swag and shipping thank yous for participants at mapping sessions and edit-a-thons, and postage/shipping for any offline surveys or mailed swag $500
5 Travel 2 international or domestic trips for 2 people (either community organizer/partners or coordinators traveling to facilitate mapping sessions) $8000
6 Fiscal sponsor overhead Our fiscal sponsor charges 7.5% on grant funds received to cover administrative overhead. $3340
Total $47840

Community engagement[edit]

Our focus communities are active partners in this work, helping to both create and test materials, and giving feedback on what works and doesn't work for them in the approach at each stage. The mapping process, for example, will be guided by a council of representatives from each target community, and having funding to support a local community organizer within one of our target communities will ensure that this community is empowered to lead engagement in the project from the start. We'll also be collecting feedback on the approach+documentation from a group of Wikimedians working on systemic bias. The Whose Knowledge? user group acts as both advisors and ambassadors for our work, and the many Wikimedians from around the world who are part of this user group will be asked to give feedback as part of this process. Finally, just as when we organized a group to attend AWID's 2016 Forum to map feminist knowledge, we'll make sure that editing events include experienced Wikipedians.


We recognise that the overall mission of Whose Knowledge? is like Wikipedia itself - always a work-in-progress (there is no absolute ‘sum’ of human knowledge, just as there is no absolute ‘sum’ of marginalised knowledge). With this project, we’re focusing on researching and piloting the proposed approaches in order to create a baseline model for communities mapping their own knowledge and then using these gaps and opportunities as entry points to content creation. The overall model, including documentation, tools and insights we produce, can be used by different individuals and groups working on Wikimedia projects, as well as by Whose Knowledge? in our campaign. The data produced in these mapping pilots will be available for use both by the focus communities we work with and other groups when improving Wikimedia content beyond the life of this project. And the improvements we bring to a system like Wikipedia Requests will ensure that there is a clear path for new groups to add their data and maps to the shared system in the future.

We don’t expect WMF grants to fund all aspects of the Whose Knowledge? campaign or infrastructure. Instead, we’re working to build a network of funders to support the work we’re doing. Funding from the Wikimedia Foundation demonstrates interest from the Wikimedia world in exploring this approach to address systemic bias, and we expect to be better able to give an update on our growing funding network at the end of this 6-month project.

Measures of success[edit]

By the end of this 6 month project:

  • Data on knowledge gaps/opportunities produced by 2 focus communities is accessible online.
  • Focus community testers are able to search, edit and add to data in their own language/country.
  • User feedback from target communities and a focus group of Wikimedians working on systemic bias demonstrates usefulness of the approach and documented model, including the specific ways to map knowledge with rather than about marginalised communities.
  • Measurable increase from baseline in content about the Dalit community and women human rights defenders from the global South using this approach. As a working target, we expect to see at least 40 pieces of Wikimedia content created or improved.

Get involved[edit]


  • Project Coordinators: Siko Bouterse and Anasuya Sengupta. We have been supporting individuals and groups aiming to address systemic bias on Wikimedia projects for the past 5 years. Learn more about us and Whose Knowledge? advisors and partners.
  • The Whose Knowledge? user group: The user group members will act as advisors and ambassadors and give feedback on the approach and documentation produced. Many have in-depth knowledge and expertise working on systemic bias in Wikimedia projects in different languages and contexts. Many are also part of larger networks in their own contexts; they'll help disseminate this work more broadly.
  • Volunteer I would like to volunteer to work with communities in India. Satdeep Gill (talk) 16:48, 19 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer I would like to help guiding and assisting the participant and also involved towards various service which will help communicate with all. Ill show positive aspects of to the community, will share and care people who needs some assist. Identify issues and/or opportunities for collecting data. Explore organizational culture and help other follow the event privacy. Mohamedudhuman05 (talk) 03:31, 3 November 2016 (UTC)

Community notification[edit]

We have been notifying communities both on-wiki and off, in spaces like:

  • Wikiprojects focused on diversity and systemic bias (e.g. English Wikipedia's Gender Gap Task Force, Spanish Wikipedia's LGBT project, English Wikipedia's Women in Red)
  • Groups that work both on and off-wiki on systemic bias (e.g. AfroCROWD, Art+Feminism, Wiki Loves Women, Wiki Loves Africa)
  • User groups focused on diversity and systemic bias (e.g. WikiWomen, Wikimujeres)

More links to be updated as notifications proceed.


Do you think this project should be selected for a Project Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project below! (Other constructive feedback is welcome on the discussion page).

  • This is a really important campaign. I strongly support this Project. Satdeep Gill (talk) 16:47, 19 October 2016 (UTC)
  • I strongly support this knowing the track record of the project Lead and also being a supporter of the goals they intend achieving the funds. I have no doubts that it will achieve its intended purpose. Rberchie (talk) 15:17, 20 October 2016 (UTC)
  • This is a very good project design coordinated by two people who have a great track record of successful work in Wikimedia communities and excellent global networks. I love the focus on mapping not only gaps but opportunities and for using strategies from other successful global activist groups like Tacticaltech and the APC. If funded, this project will certainly lead to significant results for Wikipedia's global goals and is an important step towards proactively working towards 'the sum of all human knowledge'. --Hfordsa (talk) 06:06, 27 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Excellent initiative, wonderful people with strong track record to carry it out. Full support. Raystorm (talk) 09:24, 31 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Creo que es un proyecto muy interesante y necesario para seguir combatiendo la brecha de género en Wikipedia. Mi apoyo incondicional. PatriHorrillo (talk) 15:33, 31 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Interesting and very necessary work. All my support. Mboix (talk) 15:54, 31 October 2016 (UTC)
  • All my support to this interesting project coordinated by two movement leaders! NitalaPansera (talk) 16:14, 31 October 2016 (UTC)
  • This UG has been recently recognized by AffCom, so it's needed to support them to start their activities. Besides. it's my opinion the focus of this grant could help Wikimedia movement to foster activities related to those people out of the spotlight of global strategies, specially in the so-called Global South. Salvador (talk) 20:47, 31 October 2016 (UTC)
  • I echo several of the sentiments above. This is interesting, necessary work and since it is an understudied area, I would expect the scope to be focussed (as it is) on more exploratory and descriptive pieces. Mssemantics (talk) 21:18, 31 October 2016 (UTC)
  • full support. addressing systemic bias on Wikimedia projects is really important --アンタナナ 21:18, 31 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Support My full support to the initiative and my disposition to help in any aspect that would be required. ProtoplasmaKid (WM-MX) (talk) 06:23, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Support I've seen Whose Knowledge? in action in Brazil at AWID Forum. From that experience, I feel confident that a mapping project will engage new users and also provide information for current Wikimedians who are interested in addressing systemic bias. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 23:17, 1 November 2016 (UTC)
  • I have been reading and learning about the great value this project is aiming to bring. Subhashish Panigrahi (talk) 14:55, 2 November 2016 (UTC)
  • I endorse this project because there are many marginalized communities out there, and I believe this project will bring them closer. Jonas AGX (talk) 19:28, 2 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Whose Knowledge? is a global campaign aimed at a correcting the skewed representations of knowledge and information currently accessible on Wikipedia and the broader internet. We connect and support individuals, communities, organisations and movements worldwide to create, collect, curate and openly share knowledge from and with marginalised communities, particularly women, people of color, LGBTQI communities, indigenous peoples and others from the global South. 2607:F140:6000:3:BD84:704A:54DF:EAB5 22:16, 2 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Support To be honest, I find the project a bit vague (uh. Metrics on this ?). But understudied area and I trust the two project leaders in their personal capacity, along with their network, to get something done that will be useful for all of us trying to address the systemic bias. Anthere (talk)
  • Support Support I strongly feel that this project can make an impact in terms of finding and addressing systemic gaps. I see a lot of potential for this project to align with my work at WVU, and many others who are dedicated to work around the gender gap. This could especially engage students and new users interested in these topics. WhoseKnowledge? also facilitated the Indigenous Peoples' Day edit-a-thon during WikiConference North America and were well suited for this task to identify and call attention to gaps by working specifically with community members / leaders to then move towards change after gaps are identified. Kellyjeanne9 (talk) 19:20, 7 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Support looks like a worthy effort. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 13:19, 8 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose Ich habe diesen Antrag jetzt genau durchgelesen, alle Informationen dazu angeklickt und weitergelesen. Aber ich kann absolut nicht sehen, in welcher Form das ein unmittelbares Problem anschneidet, ich sehe auch keinen Ansatz, das Gender-gap-Problem damit zu lösen. Es gibt dieses Problem, das wissen wir alle, es ist täglich sichtbar und es ist auch ganz genau verifizierbar. Man muss nur einmmal die Frage stellen, wer dafür veranstwortlich ist. Dann wird man eine Antwort bekommen (erstaunlich klar und deutlich), daran kann man arbeiten. Der obige Projektantrag ist viel zu vage formuliert, bezieht sich auf Zukunftsperspektiven (mit eventuellen Lösungen), ohne aber selbst eine Lösung vorzuschlagen. Klare Formulierungen werden vermieden, es wird um den Brei herumgeredet. Ich sehe hier vorrangig den Versuch, ein Projekt zu fördern, welches außerhalb von Wikimedia/pedia steht (http://whoseknowledge.org). Welchen Vorteil das unmittelbar mit Wikimedia und freiem Wissen hat, das bleibt mir völlig verborgen. --Hubertl (talk) 18:10, 30 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Support Gamaliel (talk) 21:34, 16 March 2017 (UTC)

See also[edit]