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Movement Organizers/About

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This page is an about page describing the Movement Organizers research. To learn more visit the main page.

How do we define “Movement Organizers”?[edit]

Wikimedia has thousands of volunteers who are contributing work beyond creating content on Wikipedia and the sister projects: they organize activities, bring people together and form communities to teach others how to meaningfully contribute their knowledge to the Wikimedia projects and participate in the larger movement (whether as readers, editors, or allies). By facilitating the community, organizers help the movement become more diverse, create more and better content, and build communities.

We are calling this group “Movement organizers”; this community has been growing for more than a decade, facilitating thousands of activities each year, from small but meaningful trainings and outreach activities, to creating some of the most wide-reaching programs in the movement, like Wiki Loves Monuments and Art+Feminism, community groups, like affiliates, or movement events like Wikimania, hackathons and regional conferences.

Why are we doing this research now?[edit]

The Movement Direction, with its focus on Knowledge Equity and Knowledge as a Service requires a greater range of community facilitators -- of people leading and facilitating development of existing communities and reaching out to include new communities. The Foundation and movement affiliates are creating long-term strategy cycles that will work towards these goals.

Because of this strategic shift, we anticipate movement actors wanting to engage a more diverse community of organizers in order to create more equitable and inclusive spaces within the movement and broader range of opportunities for supporting new contributors and allies. By creating a shared definition and understanding of the organizers we have in the movement, professionals and organizers throughout the movement can better plan for recruitment and support of organizers to further the strategy.

What do we want to learn?[edit]

The project is focused on understanding the life cycle, paths to organizing, practices, and challenges and risks faced by organizers throughout the Wikimedia movement. By interviewing a wide cross-section of organizers in the movement, and a select group of organizers from comparable organizing environments, we hope to identify consistent needs, challenges, and patterns of successful organizing. We intend for this research to better inform the Wikimedia community about the personal, social and technological challenges faced by movement organizers.

Who do we plan to learn from?[edit]

As part of the research we are doing qualitative interviews with a cross section of organizers, including:

  • Organizers supported by or associated with different kinds of affiliates
  • Paid and unpaid organizers
  • Organizers with different levels of experience
  • Organizers from different parts of the world and different cultural and linguistic contexts
  • Organizers in both emerging and well developed communities
  • Organizers focused on different activities, programs and events
  • Representatives of organizations with comparable movement-focused, international or volunteer driven organizing.

We will be conducting a diverse group of interviews within our timeline and resources to create a broad foundation for the research: roughly half in person during two site visits (see below) and half with video conferencing tools.

Site visits[edit]

As part of the research, we will be conducting two site visits to contrasting community contexts. The goal of the site visits is to understand the effect on organizers of different stages in community development, size and strength of affiliates, and cultural contexts. We are prioritizing communities that haven’t been the subject of extensive community research or consultation in the past. We are still in the process of confirming which communities we will be visiting as part of the research.

We will use the site visits to provide a deeper exploration of specific contexts in order to develop a depth of understanding that allows more thorough patterns and insights. Any investments in support or additional collaboration from the Wikimedia Foundation with specific communities is separate from this project.

What is involved in the research[edit]

What method are we using?[edit]

We are using a qualitative design research method based on contextual inquiry. Design research is research that specifically looks to understand people's experiences, goals and motivations in order to better understand how to design solutions and address opportunities for that specific community of people. Contextual inquiry is based in talking with and learning with and about people in the context they live and work in. It enables researchers to learn more in-depth information that better informs solutions that fit within the daily lives and realities of their target communities.

The core research team is designing the research process in consultation with the steering committee. Our approach to the research follows a similar method to the one applied for two similar studies conducted on New Editors and New Readers.

How did we decide who to learn from?[edit]

We worked with a steering committee of WMF staff from different parts of the organization who interface with movement organizers to identify the most important themes to investigate with this research. This collaborative identification of needs was to ensure we design the research  so that there are actionable findings to inform the work of these teams. We also consulted with the steering group to identify communities to learn with and from during the research.

What will happen with the information we collect?[edit]

After we interview participants, we will synthesize findings from conversations with participants into a series of materials: a report, a list of findings and recommendations, and materials to help folks use the research, like personas, for example.

In the qualitative interviews that we conduct with participants, we take notes and collect stories about participants’ work in organizing. Interviewees will be asked to decide how (internal to Wikimedia Foundation or Publicly) they want to share the different kinds of knowledge or data they share with us.

At this point we don’t know how the Wikimedia Foundation will apply the research findings and materials: we are at a very early stage of learning about the Movement Organizers audience. After we complete the research, we will do a series of communications and presentations to report the findings.  Also we will do workshops with multidisciplinary groups who will apply the research. With similar prior projects, i.e. New Editors and New Readers, a range of different teams and organizations implemented changes and activities based on the research. Please learn more about the applications of this work at: New Readers and New Editors (see Growth team for New Editors).

What will happen after the research?[edit]

The research is designed to be broad, and to provide findings that will help a wide variety of stakeholders within the Foundation. We expect the findings to also be useful for many parts of the Wikimedia Movement, and perhaps similar communities that rely on volunteer organizers. Our current plan for engagement after the research includes the following audiences:  

  • The Wikimedia Foundation’s Community Engagement and Audiences departments - both departments will have teams and contributors who will integrate the knowledge learned from the research. After completion of the research, we will be workshopping the findings with relevant teams from each department, in order to define what to do as a result of the findings.
  • Other Wikimedia Foundation Departments -- we expect the findings to be relevant to other teams and departments at the Wikimedia Foundation. We plan to present the findings throughout the Foundation, and invite participation from those teams in the workshopping of solutions.
  • Wikimedia Organizers and Affiliates -- we plan to present the findings of the research in various communication channels, including a report, video presentation and a presentation at Wikimania 2019. Teams who adopt strategies based on the research, will be doing further collaboration with communities and affiliates to determine how to act on and apply the findings.

Who is involved?[edit]

The project includes a primary research team, who will be conducting the study and an advisory group, who helped define the scope and priorities of the research.

Primary Research Team[edit]

The primary research team includes:

  • Ana Chang -- Consultant, Concept Hatchery -- Ana leads the design and implementation of the research process and production of research findings. She is experienced in leading community research in the international nonprofit context.
  • Lauren Miranda -- Project Manager, Community Engagement -- Lauren is coordinating Wikimedia Foundation support for the project.
  • Abbey Ripstra - Lead Design Researcher, Audiences - Abbey provides process and context expertise on how the Wikimedia Foundation conducts and supports design research and will lead communication of the research for Audiences, as well as conducting post research cross departmental workshops. She has performed the same role on the New Readers and New Editors research projects.
  • Alex Stinson - Senior Program Strategist, Community Engagement - Alex provides guidance on understanding and interpreting the movement and communicating the research for Community Engagement, as well as co-leading post-research cross departmental workshops with Abbey Ripstra.

Steering Committee and Advisors[edit]

The project includes a steering committee who guided the definition of the research needs. That committee includes:

The project is being supported by: