Grants talk:IdeaLab/Inspire Grants – Gender gap campaign

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Joining in[edit]

@Lightbreather and C.Koltzenburg - thanks for joining this idea, really glad to know you'd like to help! We're at long last starting to firm up a WMF team to work on this, and I'm updating the plan here as things develop. Will be in touch with you in January to discuss further :) Cheers, Siko (WMF) (talk) 19:42, 12 December 2014 (UTC)[]


I see a major point in this proposal is the use of banners to collect ideas and requests for funding.

  • Such calls to edit have been tried several times, though perhaps not for Meta content namespaces: it's crucial to learn from past experiences. Please make a list of links to past experiences and explain how the same mistakes/failures will be avoided (such an explanation, if longer, can be its content page here on Meta).
  • I absolutely oppose banners to non-English users asking edits in English. Either you have a grants infrastructure to handle ideas and grant requests in languages other than English, or please target only English-speaking users. As an exception, you could target sysops and very active editors on non-English projects (technically interface language).

--Nemo 11:22, 3 January 2015 (UTC)[]

Hi @Nemo bis:, I'm not sure I understand your first bullet point. Could you please provide more detail? Perhaps, as an example, you could link to at least one of the unsuccessful past experiences you're alluding to and instructing the project team to enumerate? To your second point, I agree that all banners need to be translated, whether on Meta or monolingual wikis. It is a high priority for me, and I will make sure it happens. Handling grant requests in languages other than English is likewise a high priority. It has been done in the past and can be done again, although IIRC an outstanding bug in the translation extension (source language must be English... I can't seem to find it on Phabricator tho) means that non-English requests will need to be manually translated. I believe these are the concerns you've stated. Does my response address them? Cheers, Jmorgan (WMF) (talk) 17:33, 5 January 2015 (UTC)[]

Don't focus on Wikipedia, focus on Wikidata[edit]

Maybe easier to attract new people on a new project than on an "old" project like Wikipedia. In my view Wikidata is much friendlier environment than Wikipedia regardless of gender. Multichill (talk) 14:28, 3 January 2015 (UTC)[]

Hi @Multichill:. Good point. One of my goals is to encourage grant proposals that focus on a wide range of projects (including WikiData, Wikisource, and smaller Wikipedias). Cheers, Jmorgan (WMF) (talk) 17:25, 5 January 2015 (UTC)[]


I know a couple of women who would be interested in joining our efforts to end gender gap. Only that they don't speak English. Could it be possible to translate the text? B25es (talk) 18:18, 9 January 2015 (UTC)[]

Hi, B25es. YES!  :) We do plan to make sure that the campaign interface can be translated into other languages. And we're happy to accept ideas and proposals in other languages, and get folks to help translate between languages to encourage as much global participation as possible. Are there any particular languages you have in mind that we should be aware of? Any chance you can help with translations into a language you speak? So glad you brought this up. Cheers! Siko (WMF) (talk) 20:58, 9 January 2015 (UTC)[]
Hi, Siko (WMF), tell where should I write it and I can start translating into Spanish. I did a lot of translating for Wikimania 2014 pages and they were marked to make things easier. Do you intend to do the same here? B25es (talk) 10:53, 10 January 2015 (UTC)[]
Yes, B25es, Jon Harald will be marking pages for translation once text is ready, so he'll be in touch with you when that's setup. Great to know we can count on you to help with Spanish! Thanks :) Siko (WMF) (talk) 06:40, 13 January 2015 (UTC)[]
Hi! I would be happy to help translate to Spanish, let me know if you need help! --Psanchez820 (talk) 21:38, 3 February 2015 (UTC)[]

Lack of communication raises questions about conceptual and programmatic preparation[edit]

I've been by far the most active volunteer reviewer of PEG proposals for some time, and my profession lies squarely in the preparation of grant applications. Some time ago I signed up as a volunteer team-member for "Initiative 4:Gender gap grants campaign".

So it was with some surprise that I learned of the gender-gap iniative through a posting on the Wikimedia mailing list. Has there been an attempt to inform the volunteers of what is happening, or to marshall them into a coordinated team that might work to make this three-month plan of action a success? If it really is to start in two weeks' time (February–April?), is there sufficient conceptual and strategic preparation before the planned period? Perhaps there's a hidden plan to present PEG and IEG funding proposals that have already been well-developed. It would be nice to know.

I hope that a few rabbits are going to be pulled out of hats, because I've seen little programmatic work that has had any chance of making a sustained difference to the problem. I'm generally skeptical about spending lots of money on international meet-ups, whether full conferences or workshops (can someone point to one that has had a palpable impact on WMF sites/movement?). Last year, one PEG funding application on a gender-related conference was presented and approved with very little reviewer input; my written doubts about it received no response from the applicants. Of greater concern is the lack of programmatic proposals over the years for any activity—not just physical get-togethers—that in my opinion have had much prospect of robust and sustained impact.

We have yet to see the results of the Women in Wikipedia EIG research project (the interim results were not at the stage of pointing the way for further efforts). Aside from that, there has been almost no research to underpin a concerted effort such as the one that is almost upon us.

The problem of gender asymmetry on WMF sites has exercised many of us in thought experiments, leading to impasse—at least, that is my experience within. We seem to be hemmed in on every side through the sheer magnitude of the problem and a lack of solid, evidence-based data on the reasons for the extreme gender asymmetry in editorship and article treatment on the Wikipedias. The asymmetry appears to be rooted in a complex interaction between:

  1. the very nature of the internet
  2. the nature of wiki social processes
  3. gender relations outside the internet—economic, cultural, linguistic, and religious gender asymmetries (including asymmetical access to technology and literacy training in some parts of the world)

In other words, the root causes lie in largely uncharted areas at the interface of psychology, culture, and technology. The phenomenon involves matters that can't be addressed without deep, careful, timely planning, and the painstaking and gradual building of international cooperative multi-skilled networks (not yet even started, it seems). We know so little about gender on many of the WMF's language sites, for example, that one wouldn't know where to start in devising strategies, let alone in allocating funding and auditing impact.

This three-month program doesn't yet show signs that we're ready for the challenge. Please convince me otherwise. Under the circumstances, I'm half-inclined to pay an external consulting agency to come up with solutions; but finding the right agency, if it exists at all, would be a daunting task.

To conclude, I want to say that I was crestfallen to observe the amount and vehemence of presumably male-driven umbrage at the three-month devotion of grantmaking resources to this cause. Take no notice of naysayers on the mailing list or elsewhere; addressing the gender-gap has much support in the movement. And while my comments are largely negative and critical, please don't doubt the sincerity of my support for the goal of increasing diversity. It's just the suddenness and brevity of the program, and the lack of communication, that concern me. Tony (talk) 13:21, 16 January 2015 (UTC)[]

Hi Tony1. You're right to prod us to create a more detailed roadmap for the project on wiki. Siko and I will do so within the next week. Here is a brief summary of what we plan to do, and when we plan to do it. This is based on my current understanding of the project, and I'm the technical lead, so I may get some of the details and deadlines that aren't related to measuring, building, and deploying stuff wrong. I'm sure Siko will correct me if I do :)
Mid-February: we'll build out the Gender gap page with more information about the campaign, as well as summaries of research (old and new) about gender gaps in content and contribution across our projects. This is intended to spur people to think of new ways to measure, address, and increase awareness of gender gaps.
  • March 1(ish): launch the campaign in the IdeaLab. This will involve creating a special landing page for the campaign, and encouraging people to submit ideas for proposals that are focused on the gender gap. People will still be able to create Ideas that are not related to the campaign. We expect that this will result in more ideas than usual being created, so we're also deploying some new functionality on the IdeaLab, which is supposed to help people find ideas that are relevant to their interest, and also show which ideas are gaining the most traction and/or generating the most heated debate.
  • March 1(ish): We will be publicizing the campaign across wikis (mechanism TBD, but we are very conscious of the strong negative reaction that the concept of a gender gap campaign elicits among some members of our community, so we're going to try to avoid being disruptive in ways that incur te wraths). We'll also be publicizing the campaign through other channels: mailing lists, social media, etc.
  • During March: people will submit ideas, people will comment on ideas, people will join ideas, some ideas will be more popular, novel, practical, and actionable, than others. It's up to the people who are passionate about those ideas to build them into fully fledged grant-fundable project proposals, and then submit them for funding.
  • Early April: a joint volunteer committee (comprised of volunteers from IEG & PEG + subject-matter-experts) will deliberate on which proposals will be funded.
  • April: some projects will be funded and begin work with WMF support.
That's a start, anyway. More details soon, and I'll make sure they are linked to from this thread. Thanks for your concern, Jmorgan (WMF) (talk) 17:03, 16 January 2015 (UTC)[]
Also pinging Alex Wang for her input. Jmorgan (WMF) (talk) 17:16, 16 January 2015 (UTC)[]
Hi, Tony1, thanks for reminding us how interested you are in being involved in a well-run campaign :) Just adding to what Jonathan has said, part of the work Alex and I will be focusing on for late January and early February is starting to setup systems and communications to better organize the volunteers who have said they want to help during the campaign (and recruiting some more as well). So, you'll be hearing more from us on that front in coming weeks. We'll have the whole month of February to focus on preparing for the campaign, because as Jonathan notes it doesn't actually launch as a live idea-creation drive until March. Agree the timeframe is tight, but I expect that with all hands on deck in coming weeks we will get to a good place. Cheers! Siko (WMF) (talk) 18:13, 16 January 2015 (UTC)[]

Need for programmatic guidance to take shape[edit]

Siko and Jonathan, thanks for your replies. I now address further comments to staff and fellow volunteers.

This campaign should be a significant step towards tackling one of our demons. But a special campaign requires special guidelines—specifically, goals, priorities, and targets that account for our particular strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to addressing the gender gap, and that are in accordance with the WMF's and grantmaking's strategic priorities.

If volunteers are to play a major role in programmatic design, may I suggest that at this stage we need to start developing a set of goals and priorities for how the campaign might evolve—even in bare outline? Perhaps a raw draft should be proposed, to prompt critical feedback from staff and volunteers.

The starting-point could be Lila Tretikov's strongly argued premise that the readers of WMF sites are the ultimate stakeholders (to which we might add, for clarification, the users of our multimodal content). If this is accepted, it seems to point to two primary goals: to reduce the gender gap on these sites in terms of—

  • (1) thematic content
  • (2) the gender ratio of active editors.

To add context to these primary goals, I'd like to make some practical observations that in turn point to possible priorities and themes for the campaign:

  • (A) The gender-gap phenomenon and the task of addressing it have thus far proved elusive.
  • (B) The Wikimedia movement is vast—multimodal, multicultural, multilingual, and geographically disperse.
  • (C) The scale, complexity of the movement suggest that no one campaign can solve the gender gap problem, and that this event should be regarded as the first of a succession of concentrated efforts to reduce gender assymetry.
  • (D) The movement is by no means unique in its recognition of a gender-gap problem: many NGOs and non-profits all over the world struggle with gender challenges.

So, from these observations, we could form two overarching priorities for programmatic design and funding:

  • (i) Long-term sustainability of impact. Programs should generally build into their design the means for continued impact, whether through establishing measurable online collaborative relationships or systems, or both. (Observation B)
  • (ii) Effective scoping and targeting. Given the complexity and elusiveness of the gender gap, and the vastness of the movement and its sites, we need to think carefully about the size and location of project targets; this could mean "low-hanging fruit", or manageable targets that are representative of broader parts of the WMF's sites, or good subjects for prototypical development. We can't solve everything at once. (Observations B and C)

Taking this to its conclusion, we arrive at three broad categories that might guide the choice and development of programs, focus our efforts on maximising impact-value for money.

  1. Information. We're really in the dark about the gender gap. We urgently need data across language groups, countries, cultures, and site types. We need research, both on the ground and online. Without basic facts, we can't identify and prioritise the problems, let alone design ways of addressing them. This is a key to developing long-term strategies. (Observations A and B)
  2. Action. We can, however, identify many targets for action now (Priorities i and ii above)
  3. Partnering. This third category, in my view, is yet to receive the attention it deserves from the WMF. Although partnering may not attract (much) direct funding in this campaign, as a component for some projects it offers significant opportunities for strengthening our efforts to get out of the gender predicament. It's all about developing relationships of personal trust and mutual benefit with professionals and volunteers in organisations that share our focus on addressing online gender issues. We have much in common with them and a lot to offer. (Observation D)

Finally, we might add that the spark of innovation trumps all: if someone comes up with great programmatic ideas that don't match these patterns, ignore all rules, as they say. We need to encourage creative thinking within and outside what emerge as core guidance.

Criticism and suggestions are most welcome. Tony (talk) 13:28, 27 January 2015 (UTC)[]

Pinging User:AWang (WMF) User:Siko (WMF) User:Jmorgan (WMF) User:FloNight User:Netha Hussain User:Keilana User:Mssemantics User:C.Koltzenburg User:Lightbreather User:Fhocutt User:Calliopejen1 User:Kirill Lokshin User:Thepwnco User:OR drohowa User:Rberchie User:Sahbailey14 User:User:Jon_Harald_Søby User:NiharikaKohli User:Hahc21

Hi Tony, One additional point, in addition to thinking about ongoing sustainability originating from the new project, we can consider whether people are building on work that has already been done. Of course, I don't want to stifle creativity by insisting that proposals be based on existing ideas. But I would give extra consideration to funding a project that is starting, expanding on, or improving one of the ideas already identified as a way to address the gender gap. All over the world people have been having conversations about the gender gap, and there have been ideas coming from the discussions. And in some instances, there are projects under way. I want to support these people if they have identified something that would benefit from additional resources, both human and funding. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 14:49, 27 January 2015 (UTC)[]
Quick note to Tony1 and others brainstorming funding goals/priorities/etc in this thread: Alex and I will not be able to respond much in this section over the next few days (we've got a conference and some other internal ducks to get in order first still, and I think this will merit deeper focus than we can give now), but we'll come back to read any thoughts you're posting here as inputs next week, and share more of our own thoughts as February takes shape :) Cheers Siko (WMF) (talk) 02:48, 28 January 2015 (UTC)[]
Same from me for now. My joining in is scheduled for 2 March, honestly, no go before that over here, I'm afraid. Thank you very much for this initiative, Tony1, highly apprecited, cheers, --C.Koltzenburg (talk) 12:15, 28 January 2015 (UTC)[]
Hi @Tony1: thanks very much for your thoughtful consideration of the campaign. I was very happy to see your last note about innovation - for me, the IEG is very exciting and unique as a grant program because it encourages experimentation. Related to priority/theme (B) and the multicultural and geographically diverse context of the campign, I think it's also worth considering that different approaches (and likely, different targets) will be required in order to begin to address the gender gap within different communities. I'm aware of at least one instance when the IEG committee reflected upon the number of Global North and/or English language projects it had funded relative to others - and discussed a bit about possible strategies for ensuring future funded projects better reflect the diversity of WMF sites. This is something I'd also like to see in programmatic design for this campaign. -Thepwnco (talk) 00:52, 5 February 2015 (UTC)[]

Developing Idea to proposal[edit]

(Moving this thread into its own section so it won't get lost... Siko (WMF) (talk) 07:56, 28 January 2015 (UTC))[]

I would love some help in developing an idea I proposed at Grants:IdeaLab/Gender-gap admin training. I suspended work on it because the GGTF case developed, and I realized that the problem was more extensive than I had thought. I also have no idea how to develop it in a way that would satisfy the Foundation that it was solid. Can anyone from the Foundation, or anyone with experience of these applications, offer help or advice? Sarah (SV) talk 19:24, 27 January 2015 (UTC)[]
Ditto (what Sarah said) re my proposal at Grants:IdeaLab/WikiProject Women. I am working with the Anita Borg Institute to make a complementary, private space there a la Systers. My proposal is for a public, Wikipedia counterpart. Lightbreather (talk) 20:12, 27 January 2015 (UTC)[]
Hi Lightbreather and Sarah (SV) - both of your ideas will be great starts to develop into proposals over the course of the campaign, so to my mind you're just both a bit ahead of the curve :) WMF is taking a break from funding anything new right now so that we can setup systems to provide clearer support to get you where you'd like to go. By early March, we'll be able to offer better and more specific guidance for how to expand these. If you want to get a head start compiling the sort of information you'll need to add in order to create a fundable proposal right away, though, here's what you can do now: Step 1) There is a toolkit link below your infobox on your idea. Click on it. Step 2) On your toolkit page, there are buttons to expand your idea into 1 of 2 kinds of grants (IEG and PEG). Click one and it will walk you through adding more sections to your idea to create a full grant proposal. Step 3) We'll collectively give you more feedback and improvement suggestions during the March campaign itself (I'm pretty excited about the idea of only focusing on gender gap proposals for several weeks this spring). Hope this helps as a next step! Siko (WMF) (talk) 02:48, 28 January 2015 (UTC)[]
Hi Siko, thanks for the reply. One of the difficulties I'm having is in understanding the relationship between the two types of grant. It seems that I will need both, an IEG to finance the initial exploration of the idea, who can train the admins, what they will be taught and how and where; then a PEG to finance the trainers and meetings. Can one person apply for an IEG then a PEG for the same project? Sarah (SV) talk 03:08, 28 January 2015 (UTC)[]
I get it, Sarah, it feels harder than it should be for most people to know from the start what fits in which program...and that's one way ideas can get stuck. So let's fix that.
Short term fix (for your idea) - My hunch is it should start as an IEG and include both funds for leading the exploration, developing necessary materials, and a first round of funds for the training pilot (including cost of trainers and meetings). If successful and in need of sustaining as a more regular series of in-person events, or as something an organization (be it chapter, user group, or TAI) takes on to grow further, then it could move to a PEG grant for a next phase.
Longer term fix (for all the other ideas yet to come into the Inspire Campaign) - @Jmorgan (WMF): @AWang (WMF): let's consider whether for this campaign we can add something like an "expand into a funding request" button to Idea pages themselves, rather than burying 2 separate paths on a subpage. We'd need to come up with a common set of sections to add to the page to create a program-agnostic grant proposal that could be funded via either stream, but this seems like the right time to try that out, no? Committee members welcome to weigh in here too, of course! Cheers, Siko (WMF) (talk) 07:56, 28 January 2015 (UTC)[]
Siko, thank you for the advice. What you say makes sense. Sarah (SV) talk 06:20, 29 January 2015 (UTC)[]

Minor comment on language[edit]

I went through it quickly to copy-edit. Two invisible queries where I felt it was unclear.

Slightly uncomfortable about "super powers" and "champions" as a little—how do I put it—in your face. And how will they translate into other languages? I'd go for words such as talented, focused, motivated, enthusiastic, expert, high-performing, extremely capable, etc. Tony (talk) 09:58, 8 February 2015 (UTC)[]