(If you prefer, you can read this text on the Movement Strategy Forum, and comment there.)
The Movement Strategy and Governance (MSG) team at the Wikimedia Foundation launched a proposal for a new Movement Strategy Forum (MS Forum) on 24 May 2022. The proposal was open for a 2-month community review period, ending on 24 July 2022. During that time, the MS Forum was operational for community members to try it out. The community review process included several questions. It resulted in interesting and enlightening conversations. The community review report presents a concise overview of the responses received to the community review questions. The team received the responses via the forum itself, Meta-Wiki, and the Wikimedia-I mailing list.
The results of the community review were mixed and encompassed a wide range of opinions. The feedback received on the MS Forum ranged from very supportive to cautiously accepting. The participants were diverse in terms of years contributing to Wikimedia, mother tongue, and geographic location. The forum's automatic translation capabilities were particularly well received. Outside of the MS Forum, several long-term Wikimedia contributors criticized the creation of a new space, preferring to focus on the use of Meta-Wiki.
The goal of the MS Forum is:
to improve community collaboration around Movement Strategy (MS) on a multilingual platform that is welcoming and easy to use.
The participation and support received during the community review support the premise. Close to 300 people participated in the community review; many participants were from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Many are contributors from medium-size and small Wikimedia projects.
Accordingly, the MSG team commits to the long-term maintenance of the MS Forum and its integration into the Movement Strategy processes. The MSG team will announce a call for new moderators and administrators. The approach will ensure long-term and volunteer-driven governance of the MS Forum. Outreach efforts to increase the awareness and participation of the MS Forum are starting soon.
The community review stressed some requirements for the success of this forum:
- The MS Forum is not a substitute for Meta-Wiki. Both spaces complement each other. Movement Strategy processes need to support both.
- The MS Forum is not a substitute for outreach and participation among local communities. Communications must include these local channels.
- The MS Forum must be community-driven. It cannot advance only through the participation of the Wikimedia Foundation’s staff.
- The Wikimedia Foundation must commit to a long-term plan to support the MS Forum. This is how contributors will trust the new platform and invest in it.
During the community review, some people opposed the proposal for an "off-wiki" MS Forum. They reasoned that the Wikimedia Foundation should implement this functionality on MediaWiki instead. These initiatives are not in competition. The popularity of MS Forum features can support introducing new features on Talk Pages and its programs. As MediaWiki discussion and collaboration features are enhanced, there may come a time when the MS Forum is no longer needed.
Questions & Responses
Do you think this forum can improve Movement Strategy discussions and collaboration?
Sentiment - Mixed; there is a positive perception of the automatic translation feature of the forum and how easy it is for newcomers to participate. Volunteers anyway discuss outside the wikis, and this platform offers some of the same advantages. Criticism warns of the risk of confusion and lack of adoption of another platform by communities. People opposing the MS Forum argued that the Wikimedia Foundation should invest in Meta-Wiki instead (see the discussion on Meta and Wikimedia-l).
Summary of Positive Opinions:
- If Movement Strategy is presented simply, this platform can bring more opinions.
- The translation capabilities here are so powerful and something we have never had before. Many people are left out in other channels because they feel rejected or embarrassed for their English skills. This is the only way to get widespread feedback for important topics like the Movement Charter.
- This forum feels welcoming to newcomers. Participation here can be easier than in Meta. The interface walks users through it.
- This is not a competitor to existing platforms. It simply seeks to move Movement Strategy content to a centralized platform.
- MediaWiki supports well discussions tied to wiki pages, but it lacks many features for general discussions.
- Cross-wiki discussions are already happening outside the wikis. Volunteers have adopted new platforms already. The forum has a chance to succeed, especially thanks to its translation capabilities.
- Provides a better alternative to mailing lists, Telegram, and Facebook; has a realistic goal in terms of values, user experience, and flexibility.
- This forum serves a valid purpose if we can embrace at least one platform and abandon the proprietary platforms.
- This is a great platform to centralize the strategy discussions. It is a good tool to hold international and asynchronous conversations.
- It would be really useful if the Movement Charter Drafting Committee could commit to using this platform for ongoing dialogue, in addition to Meta.
Summary of Neutral Opinions
- If the choice is to participate in the forum or many other channels, this forum probably won’t succeed. If the choice is to participate in the forum or not to participate, maybe it will be successful.
- This platform can succeed if it can offer a similar experience to social media platforms in terms of integration with mobile and laptops, intuitive interface, and access to everyone.
- Some criticism can be resolved with a commitment to post updates on Meta in some way.
Summary of Critical Opinions
- There are already many platforms in use, and there is doubt that volunteers will have the time and the energy to master yet another platform.
- There is a risk this becomes a space for a handful of WMF staff and the few volunteers/affiliate staff devoted to Movement Strategy – with limited positive effect for the movement.
- Risk of adding confusion for regular volunteers on where to keep updated with the most important information when discussions are already scattered.
- MediaWiki is what our volunteers use, and a new platform is not going to get representative participation in discussions.
- Volunteers may not venture far from their home wikis. Getting people to contribute on Meta is hard enough. Getting them to contribute here will be significantly harder.
- Moving Movement Strategy updates to a more obscure platform will reduce reach.
- Building a new silo to unite the old silos never works.
- This forum will only make MediaWiki obsolete. If there are difficulties using a MediaWiki platform for conversations, it could be more effective to seek improvements rather than creating a new platform.
Do you think this forum can be useful to welcome and retain new contributors to Movement Strategy?
Sentiment: Overall agreement. Criticism is based on the idea that volunteers need to understand how Meta works.
Summary of Positive Opinions:
- Yes, it can be useful to welcome and retain new volunteers, and also help people more easily get involved in Movement Strategy discussions.
- Multilingual conversations and automatic translation of text-heavy discussions are great features that open opportunities for participation we have been missing.
Summary of Neutral Opinion/s:
- This forum can retain newcomers if the platform is constantly improving, diversifying its topics, and creating a social atmosphere, for instance through sharing events, frequently asked questions, reminders of activities, etc.
Summary of Critical Opinion/s:
- No, this forum will only make newcomers understand less how Meta works. In the long term, this is making newcomers abandon MediaWiki.
What do you think about the proposed name and domain?
Sentiment: The discussion reflects general agreement to move from the current domain to an alternative containing “Wikimedia”. The reason expressed by the supporters of this change is that the domain must reflect an official Wikimedia site. On the other hand, many users do not seem to be bothered by the current domain name, now that the MS Forum is filled with Wikimedia participants and content. *.wikimedia.org options have been discouraged by the Wikimedia Site Reliability Engineering team as long as this forum is hosted on a third-party server. We are still in the brainstorming phase. No alternative names to “Movement Strategy Forum” have been proposed.
- (none so far)
- *.w.wiki options
- Options for new domains
Options discarded because “*.wikimedia.org” alternatives are not allowed:
- strategy.wikimedia.org (requires moving the current wiki)
Summary of Neutral Opinion/s:
- Using a wikimedia.org domain involves a security trade-off that should be analyzed by our security experts.
Summary of Critical Opinions:
- The domain should include “wikimedia” to show it is a trustable and official site where the usual privacy and safety/anti-harassment promises of the movement apply.
- “MS Forum” sounds like an antiquated Microsoft product, while .org TLD sounds like it is formalized as an NGO.
- .org is misleading because it identifies an organization, and “Movement Strategy” is not one.
Are there other channels that you would prefer to use in addition to or instead of this forum for Movement Strategy updates and feedback? Why?
This discussion was very detailed and these were the main points:
- Meta-Wiki keeps being the canonical place for MS documentation.
- The MS Forum is not a substitute for documentation on Meta-Wiki, but copying some information on the forum has some advantages. It will help to create awareness of information, which would be otherwise missed on Meta. It makes the information available in more languages through automatic translations. It also encourages more people (especially, newcomers) to participate.
- Meta-Wiki keeps being a channel where we invite people to discuss. Any invitation to provide feedback or discuss must include Meta-Wiki. Feedback received through Talk Pages must continue to be addressed.
- The current Movement Strategy channels in Telegram will continue to exist. The MSG team will continue posting announcements selectively. The team might continue exploring automatized ways of doing this as long as the results are good. The channels will be monitored for feedback and discussion.
- However, it probably makes sense for the MSG team to not promote discussion on Telegram proactively. Also, the team might propose to close Telegram channels if they become inactive and recommend the MS Forum as an alternative instead.
- We need to discuss ways to improve communications about Movement Strategy with the Wikimedia movement at-large, especially with the wiki projects. This requires a larger discussion involving editors and other volunteers locally active in the MS. These multilingual volunteers are visible on hundreds of different channels such as the project Village Pumps and social media platforms. The MSG team communicates with many of these communities regularly, and we need to agree on improving this coverage. The MS Forum is a helpful complement but not a substitute for all these channels. The goal is not to centralize all MS conversations on the forum, but to improve the connection between the MS Forum and the channels used by all Wikimedians potentially interested in participating.
- The solution probably consists of a combination of human work by ambassador-like roles (by volunteers and paid staff from affiliates and the Foundation) and tools to automatically distribute MS Forum updates to Wikimedia and social media users.
Channels discussed during the community review:
- Meta-Wiki (how exactly, to be defined), see Automatic Forum updates to Meta and other wikis
- Diff blog posts, see Create automatic feed of Diff posts tagged with "Movement Strategy"
- Local community discussion pages - Village Pumps, for example, the one at Commons (more detail is needed because massmessaging all of them every time is counterproductive, and many are not in use).
- The Signpost (when?)
- Affiliates communications (when?)
- Discord groups (which ones?)
- Telegram groups (which ones?)
- Wikimedia Movement Strategy, see Test automatic updates from this forum to Telegram, Discord, Slack, etc
- CentralNotice for special occasions.
What goals should be set to consider this forum successful?
There were many interesting discussions about what would make the MS Forum successful, what should be the goals of the forum, and how they can be categorized within themes of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. In summary, if the MS Forum can maintain and improve the suggested components, it will be deemed successful, irrespective of the number of users. [For metrics of progress, see the section below.]
- Different perspectives and experiences are encouraged to collaborate and contribute to the Movement Strategy.
- All types of contributors are invited to participate in the MS Forum, and everyone is given a platform to share their ideas, feedback, and problems around Movement Strategy.
- There is no bias toward specific projects or languages, no matter the size of the project or the language. The multilingual plugin gives everyone equal opportunities to participate.
- With the multilingual plugin, translations are quick and easy, allowing everyone to participate in the discussions, regardless of language and location.
- The entry barrier for participating in the MS Forum is lower for newcomers and community members who are not code-savvy. It is simpler to follow along with Movement Strategy discussions and to participate on the MS Forum than it is on Meta and other channels.
There were discussions about how the MS Forum should interact with other channels of communication (see the section above). The consensus is that the MS Forum would complement (not replace) Meta as a place to host topic-specific (Movement Strategy), multilingual (due to the translation plugin), and global (not project-specific) conversations. As long as the MS Forum serves as a place to have substantive and collaborative discussions around Movement Strategy - specifically in regards to the Movement Charter, the Global Council, and Hubs, all of which impact the entire movement - it will remain relevant.
To extrapolate from the feedback more explicitly: the MS Forum is a platform for all those who are not active on Meta - for whatever reason - and between the two channels, we should be able to support, inform and equip a greater percentage of Movement Strategy participants.
These are the data points that will be collected and reported monthly to measure progress towards those goals:
- # of active users (in total: by region, by language)
- “Active” as defined by Discourse is anyone who visited and read at least one topic in a given timeframe.
- “Language” as defined by Interface Language setting in user’s preference.
- Top 10 topics with the most replies and views (to measure the diversity of content)
Every 6 months, starting with January 2023, a survey will be conducted among users to collect qualitative data about forum use, specifically around these questions of impact:
- % of users satisfied with the ease of use, accessibility, safety, and platform utility
- # of MS-related problems solved on the forum
- # of new collaborations as a result of the forum
- # of new grant and funded proposals organized from the forum
Community members can propose improvements to the MS Forum and vote for existing proposals. This activity fosters co-creation and co-ownership. The MSG team was able to implement some of these requests during the community review period. They are:
- Possibility to express support or disagreement in addition to voting
- Translation of categories and tags
- Supporting the expansion of various interface languages
- Upcoming: automatic translation of topic titles
The Forum Improvements category continues to be active after the community review. Participants can suggest new proposals and vote to help the MS Forum evolve.
The following are three graphs of the regional distribution of users on the MS Forum vs. users on Meta for the duration of the community review period (May 24 - July 24, 2022).
The following are stats based on the admin dashboard from the MS Forum between May 24 - July 24, 2022.
*The graphs are weekly stats that start on Monday and end on Sunday. The dates follow the same pattern.
Signups: new account registrations
Daily engaged users: number of users who have liked or posted
New contributors: number of users who made their first post
Consolidated pageviews: pageviews for logged-in users, anonymous users, and crawlers (search engine bots)