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Movement Strategy/Recommendations/Iteration 1/Diversity/Nutshell

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Agreeing Upon a Code of Conduct

That all stakeholders/participants in any and all activities be required to sign an agreement to adhere to a code of conduct.

Numerous studies (see Harassment survey 2015, Harassment consultation 2015, Harassment workshop, and Friendly space policy consultation 2019) over time have indicated problems with unhealthy behavior and that harassment exist in the movement. Groups which have been marginalized by society as a whole are often specifically excluded by being left out of the power structures. Even those operating in good faith may alienate others by strict adherence to rules and policies.

If indeed the movement is to become “the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge” diversifying is critical. We run the risk of alienating others, silencing divergent voices, and creating tensions without a clear policy which tells people what actions are (and are not) acceptable, lays out who and how to report violations, and clearly defines what actions may be taken for breaching the code. The existing requirements in the Terms of Use for conduct and the 2017 Strategic Direction should be incorporated in the final code and it should be recognized that any stakeholder having an existing code of conduct is subject to full compliance with the umbrella code proposed here.

Computing Content Diversity Metrics and Guidelines

That all communities and stakeholders be able to access and receive statistics, tools and guidelines on the current diversity of content.This would guide and help cover the unrepresented concepts and points of view, whether they are related to gender, countries, LGBT+, culture, historically marginalized communities, among others.

We assume it is possible to locate the concepts/points of view that are represented, so that we can assess the gaps and coverage of these 1) at concept level, 2) at point of view level in all Wikimedia projects. We want to avoid marginalization in content from any specific groups by both detecting (1) the level of representation of specific concepts in each language edition and, when this knowledge is local to a language, (2) the level of sharing across the rest of language editions.

This recommendation is in line with the project Cultural Diversity Observatory. Therefore it could rely on its framework and code architecture. This could expand the project and even take out the ‘cultural’ part to work on these other types of diversity.

It relates to the three thematic area goals:

  1. to map the current areas of diversity and the diversity gaps within the movement as well as projects that have been concentrating on bridging these gaps;
  2. finding ways to increase awareness of privilege and to overcome related cultural, institutional, technological, and behavioral barriers to inclusion and to knowledge equity;
  3. Finding ways to include missing voices and bridge gaps in content, reach, and users (in terms of both access and contributions).

Digitization and Resource Prioritization for Marginalized Groups

Prioritize resources in order to increase diversity through digitization initiatives, both oral and textual. By making funds available for such work, both large scale (commercial/institutional partnerships) and small scale (editor initiatives) projects could add to more sources of open knowledge.

To meet the goal of becoming “the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge”, attention needs to be focused on how Wikimedia Foundation and the movement’s stakeholders can improve access to resource materials for diversity targets and promote diversity as an asset.

Diversity (broad spectrum of characteristics including but not limited to age, disability, ethnicity, gender, race, sexuality, social background/class) brings balanced views and expands opportunities for research and teaching. But, it has to go beyond simply the people involved to encompass their works, their history, their knowledge systems. As traditionally marginalized groups have economically been unempowered, this recommendation specifically focuses on preserving records and making them available to readership, researchers, and editors. Digitization initiatives should recognize that some topics are culturally sensitive and just because information can be digitized it may not be a best practice to do it.

It is anticipated that the change will create a wider base of sourcing to facilitate scholarship as well as editing. By targeting reference materials to digitize, in women’s and gender archives, of ethnic studies programs, of disability organizations, etc. there will be more opportunity to include more diverse knowledge.

Adopting Body Quotas for All Governing Bodies

That a quota of 40:40:20 be adopted for all governing bodies of the Wikimedia Foundation and its stakeholders, where 40% must be female, 40% must be male, and the remaining 20% must be chosen as representatives of other diverse communities (without respect to male/female the remaining 20% should draw on community members from various age groups; with disabilities; of varying language groups; from indigenous communities, the LGBT community, various racial and ethnic communities; of different socio-economic levels, etc.).

At present, any 3 people can form a user group and there are no considerations of diversity required for affiliate or project administration/leadership posts. This proposal would require that gender and diversity imbalances be addressed going forward. Stakeholders wishing to obtain grant funds from the Wikimedia Foundation must confirm their compliance with the policy to secure funding. (May require modification of grant agreements).

Identifying Wikipedia Editing and Community Diversity Barriers

To identify and look for indicators related to the different barriers to editing on Wikimedia projects and to representing knowledge on the different diversity groups (i.e. women, geographical, marginalized groups, etc.) and store them in one place where they can be consulted (e.g. as properties/values in Wikidata to link them to other stakeholder projects).

We are aware of the different types of barriers, yet, we do not know which communities/contexts are affected and to what extent (this relates to “overcome related cultural, institutional, technological and behavioral barriers to inclusion and to knowledge equity”).

Geographical location, socio-economic status, access to technology and formalized academic study can be barriers to inclusion. What kind of technological support and systems can be designed to help bridge gaps and give voice to more diverse groups of society?

The more we know about the different barriers and the solutions to overcome them, the more we will be able to replicate what works.

Implementing Parameterized User Pages for Measuring and Encouraging Community Diversity

That user pages are not plain text but contain parameterized self-declared characteristics and roles so that

  1. we can use research to assess diversity in user types and incentivize it and
  2. editors can search more easily for other users to collaborate with according to roles and affinities.

In Wikipedia the community identity is developed through the user flags editors acquire, the type of work and the social activities they perform. Having developed a user page is related to editor retention too.

We assume that guided processes after registering or whenever the editor decides would facilitate self-presentation and self-expression much more than the current userboxes. These could include both personal and task-based characteristics: gender, age, technical skills, nationality, lgbti support, topic specialist, type errors fixer, etc.

We expect an increase in the socialization process during the first period of time after registering that would help both community renewal and increase the community base.

Most importantly, once this is implemented we propose that users can be found via a search engine according to their topical interests or personal characteristics if they wish. This would stimulate community core-peripheral editors interactions.

Introducing the Ombudsperson - Community-WMF Liaison

To prevent communication breakdowns between the Wikimedia Foundation and stakeholders we propose that a board of ombudsperson or community/Wikimedia Foundation liaisons be created to facilitate the flow of information between stakeholders.

Each stakeholder will have the option to select an ombudsperson and an alternate to serve on the body. Candidates must be highly trusted community members, but ideally should not simultaneously hold other positions of authority, as their neutrality must be assured. The Wikimedia Foundation will vet candidates and select both the primary and an alternate who serves only if the primary is unavailable or is involved in a potential conflict. The obligation of ombudsperson is to serve as a conduit of information between communities and the Wikimedia Foundation and between the Wikimedia Foundation and communities. Their primary role is to support the development of appropriate solutions, harmonizing interactions between the Wikimedia Foundation and stakeholders.

It adds a position to eliminate the frustration and communication delays that tend to escalate policy decisions and implementation processes. This is primarily a community role not centered on content but on communication in order to improve the community health and diversity.

Diversifying Resource Allocation for Securing Diversity in International Collaborations

We propose changing the resource allocation structure in order to secure diversity and make it easier to process at bureaucratic level.

Resources given to diversity projects should be periodically reviewed and there is a need for a structure in place for oversight. Resources can be many things: equipment, staff time, merchandise, in-kind donations etc, but in this recommendation it refers to monetary resources. This recommendation is about how resources are allocated across national borders, and not about the amount of resources being allocated.

With many and new movement stakeholders all over the world, the Wikimedia movement needs decentralized administrative structures for resource allocation. This could help the growth of local communities as we can assume communication channels will be more fluid and processes may be easier to automatize.

Modifying the Terms of Use - Licensing Policy

Recommendation - in conjunction with Community Health WG

That the Terms of Use (ToU) and licensing requirements stipulated therein be modified to better address community health, foster the diversity aims encapsulated in becoming “the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge”, and address systemic biases in the policies of the foundation and related projects.

In spite of research from numerous internal and external studies and community feedback reports over decades, (Gender equity report 2018, Schellekensa, Holstegeb and Yasseri 2019, Ford and Wajcman 2017, Adams, Brückner and Naslund 2019) general policy change is rarely implemented in Wikimedia projects. Multiple studies have determined that extant movement policies don’t just reflect the systemic biases, they make biases against marginalized communities worse, in effect, re-colonizing and oppressing diverse knowledge. (ibid)

First, the nature of Wikimedia’s volunteering projects allows both trained and untrained (or unskilled) volunteers to “undertake the critical function of creating and enforcing policies for the specific project editions”. Second, the Wikimedia Foundation has specified a limited role, “hosting content and monitoring policy”. Both of these have created an environment for Wikimedia projects, in which the majority of editors who flock to a page, (not necessarily the majority of editors) control policy definition and implementation. Even if that implementation is detrimental to minority groups and broader inclusion of knowledge.

Existent ToU states that generally, the Wikimedia Foundation does not contribute, monitor or delete content. The exception would be when violations of the policies in the Terms of Use occur or for legal compliance for DMCA notices. At present, the Terms of Use do not address when the policies fail to promote “the Wikimedia vision of a world in which every single human can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.” This means that editorial control is in the hands of editors who create and manage the content. The Wikimedia Foundation’s primary role has been to host this content. However, a secondary role, which is unaddressed in the present version of the ToU is to work closely with stakeholders to identify shortcomings in current processes and enforcement mechanisms to aid in the development of appropriate solutions. The ToU policy needs to be modified considering that the “the Foundation views its responsibility as being to the long-term health of all Wikimedia projects” as it has been discussed previously by the Trust & Safety Team.

We propose modifying the ToU, both as a way of giving prominence to such a message to all stakeholders and as a general policy driven by movement strategy. The specific directions of the policies contained in it are mainly on aspects to be regulated such as conflicts between users, systemic biases and content.

Creating Wikioral, a Project with Voice Recordings

A Wikimedia project that aims at gathering voice recordings by volunteers to support the other projects’ content (sections and entire articles), languages subject to different degrees of oral use, and also blind users.

The outcome of this recommendation is a new Wikimedia project for every language containing voice recordings for content in Wikipedia and Wikidata (extensible to Wiktionary) as well as new original content. It would complement the rest of projects (for those languages which have a Wikipedia) and would be the single knowledge place for oral languages. Original material not linked to existing content like interviews could also be uploaded.

The way we envision an article in Wikioral is related to a Wikidata item and it contains a collection of recordings contributors could upload. In a similar way to Wikidata, we could understand each edit as a triplet of “Article name - Voice recording title/content description - Voice Recording”. Additional parameters for each recording would also be collected (date of recording, dialect, etc.).

Setting Up a Diversity Newsletter

To create a monthly newsletter with which to spread any news in regards to the diversity projects, tools, studies and community experiences - any type of diversity both in terms of topic (gender, culture, geography, etc.) and scope (content, community, governance).

The content of the newsletter would be divided in the following topics:

  • Stories (user groups, communities, Wikimedia and world)
  • Research digests and analysis
  • New tools and stats updates
  • Recommendations and goal suggestions
  • Partnerships (breaking barriers)
  • Diversity related events reports

As an example of content that could be included in the newsletter, we find this message:

“For those of you who are interested in "small" Wikipedias and Indigenous languages, here's a new academic paper co-signed by @kallmane. More info about the Atikamekw Wikipetcia project and the involvement of Wikimedia Canada Atikamekw knowledge, culture and language in Wikimedia projects”.

Develop Different Policies for Notability and Reliable Sources

Our policies about what notability means and what are to be considered reliable resources is written with primarily dominant culture populations/communities/language in mind because it is related to written culture. Often content about underrepresented cultures are considered not notable because of 1) lack of reliable dominant culture references or 2) the sources are considered not relevant or neutral. In a sense this is illogical as each cultural group identifies is own traditions and standards. Members of each culture have sources of suitable reference materials representative of their cultural identity and those should be our guideposts, rather than a Western-/Euro-centric view of sourcing.

There needs to be more education both within the communities and stakeholders and clearer policy around the plurality of language and culture. In conjunction with partners who can develop and map content gaps, partnerships should be made with groups and organizations which can identify the most reliable types of references to address filling those gaps.

Policies need to have a global focus and a recognition that standards of documentation vary from place to place. Redefining reliable sources in such a way to ensure that given the context of who the subject is, what material is available, when it occurred, and where it happened, recognizes the reality that reference sources may vary. For example, if someone is part of an ethnic minority and lived in the 18th century, sourcing which focuses upon the predominant culture is not likely to contain material on that minority group. Instead the sources of information would be most reliable materials which focus on that group, perhaps ethnic newspapers, journals, artifacts, archives, narratives, etc.

Using Inclusive Language in Stakeholder Bylaws, Policies and Communication

Use an inclusive language in all our movement written bylaws, guidelines, policies and communication work. The Wikimedia movement is global, built on a vision of reaching every single human being and working toward a strategic goal of knowledge equity for all. Wikimedia movement stakeholders should use a language that is committed to diversity and the inclusion of all voices.

A commitment to diversity also needs to manifest itself in the governance structures of our movement organisations and in the language we use. Both on and off wiki communications (policies and guidelines, announcements, village pumps, in social media, blog post, press.) should be made in a style that avoids stereotypes and biases. While movement affiliates only have very limited influence on the rules and structures of Wikimedia projects, one of the things we can control is the set-up of our organisations and here we should aim at leading by example.

Bylaws of Wikimedia affiliates should be designed to be as inclusive and anti-discriminatory as possible (in local legal context). This can be assured by adequate consulting models in early stages of affiliate development. This is also important in terms of friendly space policies, it is essential to ensure that bylaws and friendly space policies do not contradict each other in order to be effective.

Wikimedia affiliate boards and paid staff should by default should also become inclusive and diverse (gender, ethnicity, ability, etc.) as soon as possible in their organisational development process. This can be encouraged by according bylaws as mentioned above.