Hubs/Implementation/Regional Hubs Draft Plan
The following report is the result of a research work performed by myself, Anass, in relation with the implementation of the initiative 25 of Wikimedia 2030 Strategy: Regional and thematic hubs. In particular, this report looks into the opinions of Arabic-speaking Wikimedia community members with respect to this area. It has three central themes, with the same weight, which are: (1) Data gathering (by surveying and interviewing community members), (2) Understanding how regional hubs are envisioned by the community (by presenting the answers), and (3) Analyze and recommend for the future, based on the presented results.
The research work was done from 2021-07 to 2021-08 and was funded with a rapid grant supplied by the Wikimedia Foundation. More details about the financial report and activity breakdown can be found here.
Introduction and background
Hubs were a central topic since the start of the Wikimedia 2030 strategy discussions. Already at the working group stage (2018-2020), four of the nine groups touched the area in their draft recommendations. Both regional (Resource Allocation - Distribute Existing Structures, Roles and Responsibilities - HUBS) and thematic (Advocacy Hub, Capacity Building Unit, Resource Allocation - Build Thematic Hubs) hubs were taken into consideration and investigated. The big interest for this concept was reflected in the final set of recommendations, as recommendation 4 "Ensure Equity in Decision Making" mentioned explicitly both thematic and regional hubs.
In order to prepare for the implementation, and to make things more concrete, a number of initiatives (45) were taken out of the ten final recommendations. Among these, the concept of hubs had its own initiative (#25), and was made part of the "priority initiatives for global coordination", which were initiatives that needed to be worked on the international level, by the whole movement, and all its stakeholders.
The current work comes as a continuation of this path, so that a number of questions are clarified, or at least put, for a good preparation of the implementation. Given the large scope of hubs in general, and taking into consideration the limitations of this work, I have decided from the beginning to narrow down the research area to an investigation around the regional hubs in the Arabic-speaking region. The aim is that information can be used from this report even for implementation work related to other regions or even to thematic hubs, but I strongly encourage interested Wikimedians to perform the same work if possible for other areas, as the sum of all works can be complementary, and will cover the full spectrum of the movement.
This paper presents surveyed opinions and feedback related to regional hubs implementation in the Arabic-speaking region. For that, it starts first by introducing a brief background of the concept of hub in the Wikimedia context, before clarifying the report's scope and limitations. The theoretical framework is then presented, by explaining the chosen methodology, and sharing the questions that were asked in the survey, individual interviews, and on Facebook. Results are then looked into in terms of participation, answers and suggestions from participants. These results are analyzed, so that general tendencies could be highlighted, and that hanging questions and recommendations are presented. Finally, a general conclusion, and suggestions for future work close this report.
In the English language, the word hub has several meanings depending on the context where it is used. An example of relevant uses for this word are "A point where many routes meet and traffic is distributed, dispensed or diverted", and "A central facility providing a range of related services, such as a medical hub or an educational hub". In our movement, and during the 2018-2020 recommendations preparation, a glossary clarifying different concepts was created. This glossary included among others a suggested definition of hubs, presented as: "a type of support structure to enable a common space for coordinating activities and identifying and advocating for the needs of the communities and organizations they serve. They can focus on supporting a specific region or a global thematic area.", a definition inspired from Oxford learners dictionaries.
Historically, our movement saw the emergence of several community-led regional initiatives attempting to coordinate the work between affiliates and communities. These include Iberocoop, East, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Regional Cooperation, Wikimedia Central and Eastern Europe, WikiFranca, the Arab Wikimedians Committee, and the WikiIndaba Steering Committee (WISCom). However, all these initiatives are not official movement structures (i.e. not have an affiliate status from the Affcom), and their work remains symbolic and informal for the moment.
Being aware about these challenges, the movement strategy gave an important place for the subject of regional hubs to be studied. Currently, this area does not have a clear owner, but future ownership seems to be in the hands of the global council. The movement charter, a founding "to-be" document for us, will precise the scope, roles and responsibilities of hubs. Since these structures are not yet set, unclarities persist about many details, and this transitional period sees discussions about several current stakeholders in positions of power or enforcement, that are adopting an awaiting attitude.
The Wikimedian Arabic speaking community
The Arabic speaking community is considered among the oldest established Wikimedia communities, centered mostly around the Arabic Wikipedia, started in 2003. It is a complex ecosystem, given that Arabic is an official language in 22 countries in the world, and that Arabic speaking Wikimedians are spread over different continents and corners of the world. Since 2015, affiliates started to be created in the region. Nowadays, there are eight affiliates (all volunteer operated user groups) in the Arabic speaking countries, which are:
Besides these affiliates centered around geography, other affiliates are present in the region, for example Wikimedians of Tamazight User Group and Kurdish Wikimedians User Group, both centered around linguistic interests. Also, several dialects and languages originating from the region have their own projects and communities. Examples are: Taqbaylit Wikipedia, Sorani Wikipedia, and Egyptian Arabic Wikipedia, without mentioning other initiatives still at the incubator phase.
The biggest and most central project in the area is the Arabic Wikipedia. It is the 16th largest edition by article count (over 1.1 million articles), and the 8th in terms of depth.
Although the Arabic Wikipedia has more than 5000 active users (and a total of 2 million users), and even if there are 11 affiliates operating in the region (8 geographical, and 3 linguistic), the local communities experience many challenges. Several of these challenges are detailed in these reports, that were synthetized during the first phase of the Wikimedia 2030 strategy. Among the most recurrent issues expressed by community members, was the need of support in various matters, related to coordination, but also staffing, as all the affiliates do solely rely on volunteers, who perform administrative routine tasks, reserved for paid staff in other parts of the world.
In this context, an earlier effort was made in the Arabic-speaking region, where affiliates came together and started to plan the creation of an entity called the "Arabic Committee". This committee was announced to be launched during WikiArabia 2019 in Marrakesh, and had members coming from all 6 affiliates of that time. Its aim was to coordinate, share knowledge, and foster partnerships across the region. Unfortunately, this first effort did not succeed due to internal challenges and governance problems. Nonetheless, it was a very valuable lesson for a group of volunteers who created a user group (Arabic Wikimedians User Group) attempting to "simplify resource sharing and skill development among Arabic speaking community in order to strengthen and empower Arabic speaking Wikimedians". This initiative is a user group, as the hub structure is not yet clarified, and is still at the discussion stage.
Given the recent aspect of the Wikimedia 2030 strategy work in general, as well as the big number of areas requiring attention and investigation, the only research work conducted earlier regarding Wikimedia hubs was the different discussions happening during the transition phase. In particular Global conversations of November 2020, December 2020 and January 2021 had dedicated discussions for the matter.
Following the global conversations, this work comes at an early stage of research about Wikimedia hubs, and aims to provide a new layer of material and information that can be used for a good future implementation.
Although the scope of this project was already limited to ensure its feasibility, additional practical barriers needed to be taken into consideration along the way. These include:
- Scope re-adjustment - As soon as the first in-depth interviews were conducted, there was a clear indication that work with this specific regional hub is tightly connected with the Arabic language. In this context, and given that the Turkish and Farsi speaking communities are not strongly tied with the Arabic speaking community, most participants expressed explicitly their wish to have the scope readjusted to be around the language. Moreover, it seemed from an initial contact that the needs and challenges of Turkish and Farsi communities were much different than those in the Arabic region. A risk of engaging these communities would be that surveys and interviews would need to be conducted with different ways and approaches, which was not possible given the time and budget limitations of this project.
- For these two reasons, I adapted the report to reflect this wish, and therefore, this report does not highlight a MENA regional hub, but rather a hub(s) centered on the Arabic language.
- Data gathering - In statistics, it is important to reach a "representative sample" of the group that is studied. Even with the best effort of reaching out to all parts of the community, elements such as (1) absence of a specific group at the exact time this study is performed, (2) time limitation related to the project time plan, and capacity to interview a limited number of people, and (3) budget limitation, shrinking the time that could be allocated to this work, are limitations that affected data gathering, as it cannot be said that this study represents 100% of the community. However, by informing and disseminating information through popular channels, a big majority of the community was made of aware of this research, and those interested could reach out and provide input.
- Technical issues - In many countries of the Arabic-speaking region, there are still several technical challenges preventing volunteers from communicating at their ease. Some countries experience a war situation (Syria, Yemen), while others suffer from energy crisis (Lebanon), and even electricity could not be provided. Unfortunately, and even if having a first discussion and engagement from volunteers from these areas, they could not provide their input (even in written form) due to the situation in their countries.
- The pandemic - COVID-19 is still a problem in most of regions of the world. Even with the best preparations, meetings and discussions could easily be postponed or cancelled in the current circumstances. A number of volunteers could unfortunately not provide their opinion either because they contracted the virus, or because of indirect factors related to the sanitary situation in their area.
- Missing background - Even if a big effort was put earlier to communicate about Wikimedia 2030 and its different initiatives (including regional hubs), many community members lacked the necessary background to discuss these subjects on a deep level. A number of discussions remained on a basic level, or were out of the scope of this work (as they became a reminder/crash course of movement strategy). This work was time consuming, and drained valuable hours from this project (although giving background is a well invested time for future discussions). Fortunately, many other people had a good background, and participated with excellent input and ideas :)
Although not all these challenges can be solved, some of them can be addressed in future works by anyone taking over this initiative. As a way forward regarding these limitations, I recommend the following:
- Encourage several projects related to the same initiative. As each work will have limitations, gathering the pieces can prove being a good strategy to ensure a good representativity and inclusivity in the final product.
- Broaden the scope of the projects. It is true that rapid grants allow a fast and efficient funding, and are easy to manage, but from the other side, its limited budget (2000 USD) cannot fund bigger research initiatives that can be very useful in this context. The maximum budget of a rapid grant is equivalent to a full-time work for a consultant, which is not enough to provide an extensive report on important and big initiatives. Gathering data and analyzing it (especially for bigger communities) can alone take more than a week, unless information is cut (having less interviews, sending less emails), which is not good for the quality of the final report.
- Alternatively, one solution that could be thought about is to receive support from WMF staff, who can take over some administrative tasks related to these research works, or perform translations, so that most of the project working hours are actually allocated to the main purpose of the studies.
- Design and prepare video tutorials explaining the different Wikimedia 2030 initiatives. These videos shall then be shared with the community. This way, information could be found easily in case there is need for it. Moreover, the video format has proven to be essential in our time, and is one of the most used means to share knowledge. This logic applies to our community members who expressed several times their interest in video tutorials.
- Investigate the possibility of supporting affiliates with technical solutions. It is understandable that a single Wikimedian in a conflict zone will not request a grant from WMF to buy a data plan to have a call with Anass about regional hubs, but if this person knows that their local affiliates (if it exists) can support them, either by refunding them, or by offering their offices/meeting rooms for a digital meeting, it can be very helpful to get their voice as an underrepresented group to be heard.
- This possibility shall be investigated in the long term, so that local affiliates (in our case user groups) have a certain amount that they can use flexibly when a certain situation needs it, such as the ones mentioned in this report.
I would like to thank the Wikimedia Foundation, and more specifically the Strategy team, for funding this research work and making it possible. I would also like to extend my thanks to all community members and affiliates who gave from their time and participated in this project, either by endorsing the proposal, participating in the discussions, or sharing information. Without you, this report would not have been elaborated at the way it is now. Thank you!
In order to understand the Arabic-speaking community members opinions about the regional hubs, a mixed approach was used. In particular, I wanted to ensure that those not having the possibility (or not wanting) to directly engage in meetings and calls could still participate. For this reason, participants could provide their opinions and feedback either through answering an anonymous survey (asynchronously), by attending 1:1 video meetings, or by answering Facebook polls. Questions were made as clear and direct as possible, and contained a mix of simple "yes/no" questions and deeper advanced queries needing longer and justified answers.
The timespan of participation was rather generous (given the limitations of the project), and was extended to more than 3 weeks, allowing a maximum to participate. Information about this work was shared through different means, including Facebook posts, messages in the Arabic village pump, emails to all affiliates in the region, and personal message in social media.
Between the end of June and the start of July 2021, a survey in Arabic and English was shared with community members through different means, to allow them to share their opinion about a hub/hubs in their region. The platform on which the survey was shared was Google Forms. Although it is not an open source solution, and although it is owned by a private company, none of the participants expressed any discomfort using it. This said, and being aware about these points, future alternatives can be investigated for future work.
The questions that were asked in our survey were the following:
Click to read the survey questions
In addition to the public survey, 10 individual interviews were scheduled with community members who expressed their interest in sharing deeper insights, and providing extended feedback about regional hubs. Questions asked during these interviews were detailed, given the possibility of interaction, and that time allowed for longer discussions and clarifications. Not all participants answered all questions, but the original pool contained a complete set that was answered by a majority. The questions were the following:
Click to read the 1:1 interviews questions
Daily Facebook Polls
During 6 successive days (4-9 July 2021), a number of direct questions were asked to community members through the "Arabic Wikipedia group", a Facebook group with more than 11.000 members, most of which are Wikipedia editors. Every day, a specific question was asked, with a number of alternatives offered as suggested answers, but allowing also to add other alternatives, or to comment on the post. The six discussed questions were the following:
Click to read the Facebook poll questions
The total participation was of about 78 participants across all different surveying channels. They were roughly divided equally in terms of geography (between North Africa and Western Asia), and with a gender representation of 70% identifying themselves as men, and 30% as women. The detailed breakdown can be found in the sub-sections below. It is worth to mention that many participants gave their feedback in more than a forum, especially that the Facebook pool as well as the survey were open for all.
Although effort was put into ensuring inclusivity and equity, there still remained gaps to be bridged. The typical person offering their feedback in this work were men from Western Asia, while the most missing voices were those of women from North Africa. If this reflects somehow the current situation of the community (and that participants cannot be blamed for being active and willing to answer surveys), there needs to be more work in the future to have a broader diversity in the editors/affiliate members spectrum, in all Wikimedia communities, as recommended by the 2030 Strategy.
25 persons answered the survey in Arabic language. As the survey was anonymous, it did not contain any elements susceptible of identifying or tracing the participants, so that they could share their feedback in complete transparency and freedom. The answers to the first question did however provide a good insight about the background of the contributors, as more than the half (13 people) stated that they were active both online and offline.
10 individual interviews were conducted for this study. Each of these interviews lasted exactly one hour, and they touched all the same subjects and areas. Their purpose was to dig deeper in the different motivations and arguments that community members have around the regional hubs. All participants who wished to meet for an individual interview had this opportunity. This guaranteed a good representativity, and solid information. Of the interviewees were 7 men, and 3 were women. 6 were from Western Asia, while 4 were North African. A good balance between experienced, newcomers, offline and online editors was respected, to guarantee a forum of expression for all community constituents.
The Facebook polls had a particularity which was that they could be answered by the same people, as everyone had the possibility of voting for the question of the day. For this reason, and to simplify, I considered the number of "Facebook" participants, as equal to the number of participants in the day that saw most influence, which is 43 persons. Although this number might be less than the real one, this approximation is balanced by the fact that other participants gave feedback also through other channels. The detailed participation breakdown for Facebook polls per day is:
- Day 1 (July 4): 25 participants
- Day 2 (July 5): 43 participants
- Day 3 (July 6): 23 participants
- Day 4 (July 7): 15 participants
- Day 5 (July 8): 13 participants
- Day 6 (July 9): 17 participants
Opinions and feedback
In this section, answers to the different questions that were asked are presented by groups (depending on the channels), so that the reader can have a general initial sense about them, before analysis is done in later sections.
Question 1. How do you describe your Wikimedian activity?
Question 2. Do you think that your region needs a Wikimedia hub?
Question 3. What do you define as your region (in terms of a hub)?
Question 4. Why do you need a hub in your region? What is currently missing that a hub could solve?
Question 5. How do you see a hub in your region? Can you describe it? (Will it have offices, where? Who will work there? What roles and responsibilities they have? etc.)
Question 6. What should happen so that you can have your dream regional hub? Who should work to implement it? (is it the communities? or the WMF? what are the steps?)
Question 7. How should the relationship between the regional hubs and user groups be? Should they be independent or not? How do you ensure that they will not overlap?
Question 8. How should the relationship between the regional hubs and the Wikimedia Foundation be? Will the hubs be independent or be under WMF?
Question 9. Who will benefit from the hub's work? Is it online communities or offline? Or both?
Question 10. Who should work in the hubs? Is it employees? Or volunteers? Who will hire them? And based on what? Will they be community members or external?
Question 11. In which city/country should the regional hubs office be? Why?
Questions and answers from the individual interviews were very detailed. For this reason, I have gathered the original text from all the discussions at the further readings section. Interested readers are encouraged to read these transcripts in detail. In this section, I have synthetized the answers and gathered the main tendencies that I saw redundant in different calls. I have also reorganized the questions in clusters, so that a logical flow is respected. Additionally, I have created a summarizing one-pager (to the right), gathering the most important takeaways from these individual interviews.
Question 1. What do you define as your region? Why?
Question 2. Why do you think you should have a hub in your region?
Question 3. How do you envision a hub in your region?
Question 4. What roles and responsibilities will the hub have?
Question 5. How will the hub interact with the other stakeholders in the movement?
Question 6. How can we concretely start the work of creating a hub?
Question 7. What are the challenges you see for a regional hub at the moment?
Question 1. Do we need a hub in our region to centralize efforts and coordinate with the community and the affiliates?
Question 2. In your opinion, who should take the initiative to create a regional hub?
Question 3. How many hubs should be in our region? Why?
Question 4. Should the regional hub report to the Wikimedia Foundation or be independent?
Question 5. In your opinion, how will the hub interact with the affiliates?
Question 6. What is the best location to have offices for a regional hub? Why?
Results from the different surveys conducted in this work, presented in the earlier section, gave a number of important facts and statistics related to the opinions of the Arabic-speaking wikimedians who participated in these surveys. Among the most important take-aways that could be concluded, are the levels of agreements regarding some key ideas. I chose to divide these levels into three main groups (1) Mostly agreed by the community, (2) clarifications required, and (3) mostly disagreed/controversial, where deeper sessions and follow-up discussions need to be conducted to find a common ground. These ideas and groups are presented in the table below:
|Idea/Opinion||Level of agreement||Comments|
|The region needs a hub.||1 - Mostly Agreed||This idea is among the widely agreed and advocated by the Arabic-speaking community. 92% of the survey respondents acknowledged that need.|
|The hub should not cover countries outside the Arabic-speaking region||1 - Mostly Agreed||Although there is a strong disagreement about the exact region covered by the hub, there is a consensus that this hub will not cover countries outside of the Arabic-speaking region, given the "disconnection" felt between the communities.|
|The "official" status of the hub needs to be clarified by the Affiliations Committee||1 - Mostly Agreed||All respondents who touched on the status of the hub mentioned explicitly the current confusion related to this concept, and the barriers that are encountered when trying to set-up a hub, as there is not such a status recognized by the Affiliations Committee.|
|The community should be the decision-maker in hub-related matters||1 - Mostly Agreed||The participants agreed strongly on the importance of a community-ruled hub, in the sense that it is the community that will need to take key decisions regarding the hub, from its inception to the concrete implementation and regular operation.|
|Both online and offline communities will benefit from the hub||1 - Mostly Agreed||Even if a hub is an offline structure, the large majority of the respondents agreed that both online and offline communities need to be supported and served by the hub. 93% of the survey participants endorsed this opinion.|
|Roles and responsibilities of the hub||2 - Clarifications needed||If there is a wide agreement about the need for a hub, and clear arguments motivating it, the concrete roles and responsibilities taken by the hubs need further discussion and clarification. A group sees the hub as a regional WMF, while others consider that it is best as a coordination structure. This point is tightly connected with the independence level of a hub, as the answer to that question will determine which mandate and exact roles it will have.|
|General structure of the hub||2 - Clarifications needed||The general structure of hubs in the Arabic-speaking region need further clarifications. It is still not agreed if/how hub(s) will have a legal status, how employment is going to concretely happen, as well as how the decision-making will be applied and by whom.|
|Governance of the hub||2 - Clarifications needed||While it was agreed that it is the community that needs to "rule" the hub, questions still remained about the "how". A group suggested regular elections (in various configurations, different from each other), while others supported the appointments of skilled members. Divergence was also noted in the level of intervention of the Wikimedia Foundation and its employees in these processes.|
|Relationship with other movement actors||2 - Clarifications needed||The relationship between the regional hub and other movement actors (other hubs, WMF, affiliates, online communities) is seen from several angles depending on the person. A group encourages a total independence of the hub, while others support more coordination and interdependence.|
|The geographical area covered by the regional hub||3 - Mostly Disagreed||Participants have strong opinions, split between one hub covering all the Arabic-speaking region, or two hubs (one in North Africa, and one in the Middle East). As seen, this question does not only regard the region definition, but impacts also the number of eventual hubs, as well as the thematic (since one hub in the whole region means an overlapping with the linguistic Arabic hub).|
|Next steps to start the hub implementation||3 - Mostly Disagreed||One of the most disagreed points was about who should start implementing the regional hubs. Opinions ranged from a total control of the process by the WMF, to a completely driven work by the community, and including collaborative options. The criticality of this point comes from the fact that it can eventually be a blocker, especially if every part expects the other to start the work proactively.|
|Hub Location||3 - Mostly Disagreed||Very few participants agreed on a same answer. In many cases, respondents were mentioning their own countries and cities, while other suggested countries outside of the region, or even a remote hub to prevent future problems.|
List of hanging questions and recommendations
An important side of every discussion are the reflections emerging from it, as well as next steps to be taken. In our context, several areas proved a need of deeper investigation and discussion. In particular, points of divergence between various community members will require a good understanding of why there is a disagreement, who is responsible of managing it, and how a way forward can be suggested. The reason these areas are analyzed in this manner is to provide a comprehensive picture about them, and explain shortly and effectively both the challenge and the possible solution, which will be a valuable background for anyone working with regional hubs in the future.
The table below gathers the list of hanging questions from the Arabic-speaking communities about the current and foreseen challenges related to the implementation of a regional hub, as well as suggested recommendations to overcome them.
|Question (WHAT)||Explanation/Complexity (WHY)||Suggested Responsible (WHO)||Suggested Way Forward/Recommendation (HOW)|
|Process ownership||There is a confusion about who owns the process related to regional hubs, as well as who should do what, and when? There is a risk that nothing will happen as everyone remains in a passive "waiting" phase.||
||A suggestion to clarify this situation is to create a discussion place/forum (facilitated by the WMF strategy team) gathering all the parts interested in this process. The fact that setting up the global council takes time constitutes indeed a risk for long inactivity periods. Meanwhile, discussions need to continue, as well as clarifications regarding who is responsible for continuing them.|
|Geographical scope of the hub
- - - - - -
|Several participants (with different opinions) reported their concern regarding how the region covering the hub will be decided. They have mentioned in particular the grants regional committees, where the choice of combining all of Africa and the Middle East was not really appreciated (nor discussed).||
||Similar to the point above, a discussion forum needs to be opened with the communities, in order to understand their visions to their regions, and the argumentations they are offering to motivate their different choices. These discussions need also to reach the point of clarifying who will be the ultimate decision maker on the question, and why.|
|First steps of the hub implementation||As there is unclarity about who drives the process forward, this results in a confusion related to the first steps. In the Arabic-speaking community, many members expect the WMF to drive a discussion and events related to the hub, while others think the community itself should self-organize.
Many participants reported also that it is unfair to expect from volunteers to drive such a big work, especially that we do not have chapters in the region, nor staff in our affiliates. The biggest risk is that even if there is a need and interest in having a hub, nothing will happen.
||A suggested solution is that the Wikimedia strategy team organizes sessions and meetings with communities interested in having regional hubs, and come together to discuss a clear plan. It is fine that the WMF expects the communities to do the starting work, but in this case this should be communicated to the communities so that they can start the work. A lack of communication, or a misunderstanding can as mentioned generate a blocking situation where each part is passively waiting for the other to take action.|
- - - - - -
|There are many hanging questions of all sorts related to the structure and roles and responsibilities of the regional hubs. The different existing conceptions and visions will need to come together.||
||In a perfect world, the movement charter drafting committee will define a movement charter, giving a high-level picture of the roles and responsibilities of hubs, that the global council will enforce and implement. Communities will have a crucial role as the hubs can vary in terms of structure and responsibilities depending on the regional needs, which is an important reason why communities need to be consulted. A risk seen with this point is that not much can be done before the charter committee is formed. A mitigation would be to consult communities already now (from the strategy team) to survey their opinions about roles and responsibilities of a hub, so that these ideas are documented and stored (to be taken into consideration) before the final discussions.|
|Legal questions||Several participants in the region reported legal challenges they face, and that can be a hinder for continuing the work towards a hub, even if they are very motivated to do so. Among the problems raised were funding, compliance to the American law, and the difficulty and danger related to having a legal status in their local country. They do not want to be left alone.||
||A number of participants suggested the possibility of discussing with the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, as it is (1) the ultimate decision-maker, (2) serving the community, and (3) responsible for legal matters. A good discussion can result on a plan comforting these members so that they do not feel left alone, and so that there is a plan on how funding could be guaranteed for their region, and also how they could be supported in legal matters, as a hub will probably need setting up a local legal structure.|
|Status of the hub as a Wikimedia structure||Many participants highlighted an ongoing challenge in their discussions with the Affiliations committee, who has current limitations, and grants only three types of structures. None of these three alternatives seem close to the definition of a hub, which is a blocker for communities who would like to come together and collaborate on a more "official" level from a movement perspective.||
||The affiliations committee needs to establish a clear plan about how they want to proceed in solving this question, in order to see if they can create a fourth type of structure. They are also very welcome to engage with the community for advice if they would like to. The most important is that the situation is not blocked as is the case currently.|
|Internal community conflicts||Given the different ideas observed in this survey, as well as the strong opinions that are sometimes contradictory with each other, it is important to ensure that conflicts and disagreements will be managed in a healthy way. This question regards several actors, including the affiliates, the at-large community members, as well as the Wikimedia Foundation and the movement charter committee.||
||The importance of the work that will be conducted with the movement charter drafting committee appears already now. In fact, the clearer the result will be, the lesser the risk that conflicts and misunderstandings will happen. The Affiliations Committee also has an important role in ensuring healthy mediation between different parts that could disagree with each other, as it is part of its mission. Finally, the Strategy team is encouraged to produce and communicate material that can disseminate information about regional hubs, such as video tutorials explaining and clarifying these concepts, so that they are viewed and understood by a majority.|
|Location of the hub||The question of the hub location proved to be one of the most controversial in this work. In fact, it seems that there were as many different answers as the number of participants themselves.||
||Similar to the effort that needs to be done to clarify how and who should start the implementation work, it is crucial to create a conversation space for the community to have a discussion about this matter. If the community does not create this space itself, a recommendation is that the Wikimedia strategy team takes the responsibility of driving this process forward by inviting interested community members to targeted discussions where they can express their opinions and plan a way forward.|
Conclusion and future work
By surveying ideas and opinions from the Arabic-speaking community in relation with regional hubs, this report aims to provide insights for anyone interested in learning more about the subject, as well a background for those interested in working deeper with regional hubs, either for this region in particular, or for any other. It will be particularly interesting to compare the trends and results that were brought forward in this work, with similar surveys that might be conducted later on for other communities.
I have surveyed the community through different means (Google form, Facebook, and individual interviews) and synthetized the findings. Analysis of these results showed the general points of agreement within the community, but also where more clarifications will be needed, and most importantly the hotspots that can eventually be blockers given the disagreements happening currently about them. The challenges related to the controversial areas will require further investigation. In this sense, the last section of the report presented a list of hanging questions, suggested a responsible to drive and own them, as well as recommendations for first steps forward, in order to ensure that the situation will not be blocked for communities interested in building their regional hubs.
In the future, this report can be complemented by research in several of the areas that were identified as open questions (listed in section 4.2), but also with all the aspects that were not in its scope (listed in section 1.3 - limitations). In fact, each limitation in this work can be seen as an opportunity for future works, that will hopefully emerge so that the question of regional hubs and its surrounding unclarities are gradually refined, to allow a good implementation of these structures in a near future.
I have gathered anonymized detailed results from the individual interviews in separate pages, that can be used as reference for those wishing to read the details. This information comes as a summarized transcription of the interview material (videos that were recorded uniquely for this purpose). The transcribed interviews are the following:
Moreover, if you are interested in reading about general background of the Wikimedia 2030 strategy, as well as on regional and thematic hubs developments, do not hesitate to browse the links below:
- Wikimedia Movement Strategy start page
- Overview of Strategy activities between 2018 and 2020
- Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy Recommendations
- Recommendation 4 - Ensure Equity in Decision Making
- Resource Allocation - Distribute Existing Structures
- Roles and Responsibilities - HUBS
- Advocacy Hub
- Capacity Building Unit
- Resource Allocation - Build Thematic Hubs
- Wikimedia 2030 Transition start page
- Wikimedia 2030 Transition event reports
- Hubs defintion and background - Meta
- Monthly reports about Arabic-speaking community feedback - Wikimedia 2030
- Arabic Wikimedians User Group
- Wikimedians of Tamazight User Group
- Kurdish Wikimedians User Group
Slides presenting this work (in different languages)
Videos presenting this work (in different languages)
This report and its results were presented in several occasions in various community events. Recordings from these presentations can be watched below:
Presentation of this report work during WikiArabia 2021 (in Arabic)