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Grants:Project/Whose Knowledge/Whose Knowledge?/Final

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Report accepted
This report for a Project Grant approved in FY 2017-18 has been reviewed and accepted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
  • To read the approved grant submission describing the plan for this project, please visit Grants:Project/Whose Knowledge/Whose Knowledge?.
  • You may still review or add to the discussion about this report on its talk page.
  • You are welcome to email projectgrants(_AT_)wikimedia.org at any time if you have questions or concerns about this report.

Welcome to this project's final report! This report shares the outcomes, impact and learning from the grantee's project.

Part 1: The Project[edit]


The knowledge of marginalized communities is the knowledge of the majority of the world. This project has explored an approach for centering the knowledge and expertise of marginalized communities in the Wikimedia movement in 2017. In partnership with Whose Knowledge?, two pilot communities (Dalits from India and the US, and queer feminists from Bosnia and Herzegovena) have led the way in mapping their own knowledge, creating Wikimedia content, and speaking powerfully about their truth and experiences. Together, we're exploring what it means to do this work in ways that have been at times both joyful and painful. The Wikimedia movement has much work to do to focus collective efforts on the knowledge and communities that have been left out by structures of power and privilege. Allyship is key.

Project Goals[edit]

(see a live version)

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.

  • Mixed success+failure, and some de-prioritization.
    • Through the mapping process, we learned what data is most useful to gather, what to leave out, and some basic ways to structure it that make sense to either Wikipedia, or to marginalized communities themselves (and we've uncovered some places where these two don't always easily intersect). This is a useful foundation.
    • But, the first solution we tried out for housing data (Wikipedia Requests) doesn't meet our communities' needs without further customization. That customization has been difficult to move forward in the absence of good code documentation.
    • Ultimately, this aspect didn't turn out to be a highly prioritized need from marginalized communities we were working with in this phase. Spreadsheets were ok for the first phase, and when this becomes a stronger need to help pilot communities achieve their goals we can revisit it again - long-term storage will certainly become an issue in future phases.

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.

  • Success! Content has been created and improved using this model.
    • At 5 Dalit history edit-a-thons in April-July 2017 (3 in India, 2 in the USA), 80+ community members and Wikipedian allies improved 185 articles, created 21 new articles (e.g. Grace Banu, and uploaded 27 files to Commons, all of which has had over 12M pageviews.
    • Okvir editing output on Wikipedia so far has been smaller-scale. After learning from both the successes and backlash from Dalit History Month, the Bosnian group has been compiling sources and laying the groundwork for a few strong articles (e.g. Lepa Mladjenovic) in multiple languages, while focusing larger-scale content production on Kvir Arhive, their oral history archive.

Overall aim: 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.

  • We think of this report as a v1 model to be improved over time, and remixed into better forms for different contexts.
  • Another version of this story/model is documented here.
  • See the "future opportunities" section for what we think v2 looks like.

Project Impact[edit]


Planned measure of success
(include numeric target, if applicable)
Actual result Explanation
Data on knowledge gaps/opportunities produced by 2 focus communities is accessible online. Dalit and queer feminist knowledge from Bosnia is available online under free license. See Project Resources section.
Focus community testers are able to search, edit and add to data in their own language/country. Spreadsheets + Wikipedia requests sort of allow this, but not with any elegance. Deprioritized in first phase, to be revisited later.
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. Conversations with pilot communities, allied Wikipedians, and those who attended our panel at Wikimania 2017 indicates the approach is generally useful (can a measure of success be that Wikipedians cried in our panel?). Specific feedback from pilot communities has helped us learn what does or doesn't work in our initial documented resources. We haven't, however, gathered systematic feedback for public consumption to demonstrate this. A more concrete survey beyond our current informal conversations might be something to consider in later phases, particularly after our next collective sprint on toolkits for other marginalized communities to use (see next steps section).
40 pieces of Wikimedia content created or improved (measurable increase from baseline in content about the Dalit community and women human rights defenders) At least 185 articles were improved, 21 articles created, and 27 Commons files uploaded via Dalit History Month. We beat our own expectations! That said, the queer Bosnian community has not prioritized edit-a-thons or other large content-creation pushes on Wikipedia at this time. And how much of the Dalit content will persist on Wikipedia long-term also remains unclear, because so much Dalit knowledge has been kept out of the sources and privileged perspectives that some of Wikipedia's most active editors prefer.


Azra Causevic speaking on challenges and opportunities of sharing queer feminist knowledge from Bosnia online, on "Centering Knowledge from the Margins" panel at Wikimania 2017
Stan Rodriguez and Michael Connolly Miskwish at Wikimania 2017
Stan Rodriguez and Michael Connolly Miskwish speaking on challenges and opportunities of adding Kumeyaay knowledge to Wikipedia, on "Centering Knowledge from the Margins" panel at Wikimania 2017
Thenmozhi Soundararajan at Wikimania 2017
Thenmozhi Soundararajan speaking on challenges and opportunities of adding Dalit knowledge to Wikipedia, on "Centering Knowledge from the Margins" panel at Wikimania 2017

Perspectives on Wikipedia quality from the margins[edit]

An exploration of Wikipedia quality markers from Dalit perspectives

Methods and activities[edit]

Okvir, One World Platform and Whose Knowledge? team members
File:Dalit History Month Profile.jpg
Dalit History Month collective logo
Dalit History Month edit-a-thon in Berkeley U.S.A
Case study of Dalit History Month 2017 process with Whose Knowledge?
A Whose Knowledge? group at Wikimania 2017
The public launch of Kvir Arhiv in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Pilot communities[edit]

This project began with 2 communities:

  1. Dalit History Month with Equality Labs, a Dalit group based in India and the U.S. Equality Labs has been part of a collective organizing Dalit History Month for several years, with an aim to share the contributions to history from Dalits around the world.
  2. Kvir Arhiv in Bosnia with Okvir - Feminist LGBTQI group in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Okvir has been collecting digital histories for a queer archive in Bosnia-Herzegovina, beginning with stories from activists and others about the 1990's war.

Knowledge mapping[edit]

  • Each community brainstormed a list of important people, events, issues, etc relevant to their communities.(sample framework)
  • These were then organized into spreadsheets, noting which topics were already covered on Wikipedia. (example of Dalit spreadsheet and LGBTQI Bosnia spreadsheet)
  • Note: Some knowledge had to be redacted from the public versions of these maps, for security/safety reasons of both marginalized communities.
  • Community organizers reviewed existing Wikipedia articles for quality and perspectives, noting where improvements were needed, and where content was missing.
  • Community organizers reached out to community scholars to find reliable sources for use on Wikipedia. The sources that communities consider reliable often differs from the sources that Wikipedians consider reliable, so we spent a lot of time talking about sources all together!
  • Community organizers used the maps to prioritize worklists for creating Wikipedia content. (examples of Dalit worklists)
  • Note: Mapping takes significant time and energy by the organizers from each community! Additional funding for this was provided by another grant from another funder.

Structuring and storing data[edit]

  • Spreadsheets seemed to work ok for both communities to generate first maps.
  • Afterwards, we cleaned up one spreadsheet for upload to Wikipedia Requests to test it for longer-term storage. Harej did the first bulk upload of Dalit knowledge, and built a bulk uploader for others to use in future
  • Note: in present form we don't see Wikipedia Requests as a working solution for long-term storage of mapped data in a format that's super accessible and useful to marginalized communities. (See Project resources section below for more learning on this)

Content creation[edit]

  • Whose Knowledge? provided mini-workshop sessions with key organizers in each community.
  • As needs emerged, we co-created resource pages and checklists to support the organizers.
  • Community members gathered together at edit-a-thons to work on creating Wikipedia content.
  • Wikipedian allies joined each event, supported content creation during and after events, gave feedback on sources both before and after articles were written, and advised when gatekeeping from a more experienced Wikipedian turned distinctly un-civil.

Multiple experts and allies[edit]

Our key organizing principles for pairing multiple experts and allies remain:

  • Centering the expertise of marginalized communities themselves, with marginalized community organizers leading in key areas like knowledge mapping, prioritization/worklists, participant outreach, and edit-a-thon facilitation.
  • Inviting community scholars who can help with sources.
  • Inviting Wikipedian allies who have expertise in supporting, creating and curating online encyclopedic knowledge.

Project resources[edit]


Note - Here's some of what we learned would be needed to improve Wikipedia Requests as a long-term solution for storing mapped knowledge:
  1. grouping/tagging/sorting lists for easier readability (right now we can find all DHM content in 1 unsorted list only),
  2. ability to add priorities (useful for generating worklists for events coming from 1 bigger list),
  3. documenting developer code well so that multiple developers can contribute (including newer Wikimedia devs).

Content creation

Media, tech, stories, etc.

Note - Here's some instructions from the Wikipedia Requests developer about bulk uploading in the current system:
  1. Spreadsheets you upload through this interface should have six columns: Page language code (e.g. put ‘en’ for English Wikipedia), Page title, Brief summary of the request, A longer explanation of the request, Relevant categories, Relevant WikiProjects
  2. Example: I put each request in the “Dalit History Month” WikiProject, as well as sub-projects based on the topics given e.g. “Dalit History Month/Politics and Legislation.” If the page already exists, then the request will be sorted by those WikiProjects as well.


What worked well[edit]

What didn’t work[edit]

Trying to go broad and fast, instead of focusing on deep and slow.

  • Example: Wikipedia can be a really antagonistic and re-traumatizing space for marginalized communities, organizers, and activists who have had their knowledge questioned and erased in many other venues over many generations. Working on many articles at once created extra opportunities for some of the marginalized organizers to experience the kind of on-wiki harassment that's very familiar to many Wikipedians, and unfortunately is also all-too-familiar to many women, LGBTQI people, people of color, etc who live on the broader internet. This year, we've deepened our commitment to encouraging marginalized communities (including ourselves!) working on Wikipedia to 1) start with a small set of content to focus on learning with and shoring up, thereby limiting the sheer number of potentially re-traumatizing encounters, and 2) make room for some additional safe, joyful spaces for sharing knowledge outside of Wikipedia when things get too painful. These are mitigating steps until the Wikimedia movement has better solutions for grappling with the larger issue.
  • Example: Last year, we thought we would begin with large-scale open source knowledge “maps”, that would be led by global surveys of marginalized communities. We quickly realized this was entirely the wrong approach. Until we built trust with a few communities and learnt what their frames of reference for knowledge and “expertise” were, we couldn’t hope to create a global survey that would be useful in different contexts. We may come back to a global survey - but not until we have a far better grasp of what multiple specific knowledge maps for different communities looks like, and what they imply for others like them.

Next steps and opportunities[edit]

Working with multiple pilot communities has given us a lot of ways of doing this work, with an approach that centers communities and their needs. We are planning a convening with our core community organizers in 2018, using the Book sprints methodology, to bring together our shared experiences and expertise and create set of tools and resources that other marginalized communities can re-mix and re-use, based on their contexts. This will be one next test to see how our approach can be scaled thoughtfully.

Part 2: The Grant[edit]


Actual spending[edit]

Expense Approved amount Actual funds spent Difference
Design and tech $18,000 $15,000 $3,000 not needed in this phase
Community organizer $6,000 $6,000 0
Project coordination $12,000 $12,000 0
Hospitality (food, printing, etc) $500 $996.52 + $78.51 in-kind WMF merchandise ($575.03) more was needed than planned, for extra events
Travel $8,000 $7890.61 $109.31 left over from travel
Fiscal sponsor overhead $3,340 + $269 $3,609 0
Total $48,109 USD $45,574.64 $2534.36 underspend

Remaining funds[edit]

Do you have any unspent funds from the grant?

  • Yes, $2534.36 remains unspent - we invested less than expected in tech for this exploratory phase.

If you have unspent funds, they must be returned to WMF. Please see the instructions for returning unspent funds and indicate here if this is still in progress, or if this is already completed:

  • We'll be sending back funds, in coordination with WMF grants admin staff.


Did you send documentation of all expenses paid with grant funds to grantsadmin(_AT_)wikimedia.org, according to the guidelines here?

  • Yes

Confirmation of project status[edit]

Did you comply with the requirements specified by WMF in the grant agreement?

  • Yes

Is your project completed?

  • Yes

Grantee reflection[edit]