Movement roles project/Initial Questions II/Rancic
Vision and Mission
- Are you familiar and comfortable with the vision and mission of the Wikimedia Foundation?
- Do you and your organization share this vision and mission?
The strategic planning project framed the following goals for the movement:
- Secure the infrastructure
- Increase global participation
- Improve quality
- Expand reach
- Support innovation
With that in mind:
- How applicable do you think these goals are to your role in the movement?
- Secure the infrastructure: I am system administrator. I've already started the project for backing up the Wikimedia content. However, project has been stalled for one year. I'll try to revive it. However, out of rare examples, like that one is, I am not the right person to deal with securing the infrastructure. However, I can help in brainstorming it.
- Increase global participation: As a member of the Language committee, my natural duty is increasing global participation. I would like to see discussion about relation between global participation and language edition of Wikimedia projects to be started. Wikimedia doesn't have strategy toward creating new projects and I am working on that issue inside of the Language committee.
- Improve quality: Whenever I am able, I am making connections between scholars and Wikimedia projects. Like in relation to securing the infrastructure, I see my participation in relation to this issue on case by case basis, not systemically.
- Expand reach: Just as a byproduct of my role in increasing global participation.
- Support innovation: I have a number of ideas how to improve Wikimedia projects. The most of them require organization, which requires money, and securing money for projects is not my part of the job :) So, I would like to see discussion about innovation to be started. Presently, everything related to the innovation support is consisted in two words of the strategic goals. I haven't seen innovation support in Wikimedia for years.
- How can the Wikimedia movement best meet these goals?
- Secure the infrastructure: Diversification of data centers should be the high priority. Besides that, cheap replications of accessible (probably, read-only) content should be all over the world. And it is not expensive to create. Chapters could have significant role in that project.
- Increase participation: There are various issues related to this goal. Probably the most important issue is to shift Wikimedia culture to significantly less hostile one. The other straight-forward approach is to have global project for increasing academics participation. However, there are two less obvious issues, which are probably systemically much more important:
- We need the plan how to increase number of Wikimedia projects language editions. There are less than 300 Wikimedia languages and there are more than 5000 languages in the world. While it is not reasonable to expect to have all of the world languages as Wikimedia languages, we can expect more than 1000 Wikimedia languages. But just if we are able to do that proactively: to make requirements for smaller languages to get projects. That includes work on field and active support by Wikimedia Foundation and chapters.
- We need to attract young people to edit. Implementing social networking infrastructure and free software causal games is the right thing to do to attract younger generations. Mobile applications -- not plain Mobile Wikipedia -- are the next goal. People should be able to easily upload photos, tag places, fix articles etc. from mobile phones.
- We need to increase academic participation in Wikimedia projects. That doesn't mean just to teach students and professors how to edit Wikipedia, but to create innovative ways for their participation. Hosting wikis for particular universities or departments is one of the solutions.
- We need to create less hostile environment for work on projects. If that is not possible, fragmentation of wikis is better option than alienating good editors on daily basis.
- Increase quality: We need innovative ideas in relation to universities, research centers and relevant companies. Just calling them to edit and explaining the principles of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects -- doesn't work well. And to use that work to improve quality.
- Expand reach: Bring computers and internet in areas without them. That would be enough for Wikipedia reach in areas without it. Notable exception is South Korea. That brings the other idea: include Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects in MMORPGs, like World of Warcraft is. Contrary, we don't need to work on reach in developed and near-to-developed countries.
- Support innovation: Creating a body which would deal with new ideas would be a good idea, for the beginning. That body should be able to gather ideas, to decide which ideas are good and to be able to fund them.
- Should the movement spend its resources on goals/activities of groups that are not wholly aligned with the strategic goals?
- Yes. Wikimedia movement should act as the central point of free knowledge movement and wider.
Threats to the movement
I have to say that I am a bit disappointed with the fact that this body hasn't included analysis of possible threats to the movement. Some of those threats are clearly obvious and we have to work proactively to solve them.
- First and most important. We are losing momentum for a couple of years. AND Wikimedians on high positions are lying mostly themselves. For year or so Wikipedia is *not* in the top five Internet sites. (For a long time, the place is 7th.) And this (lying themselves) is not the only sign of society in decline. All issues below belong to that particular category. The situation is very serious and we have to do something in relation to that. Otherwise, the movement will implode.
- The reason for that is more than obvious: We are not innovative anymore. We represent a website from the early 2000s and we haven't done technologically anything essentially since the beginning, for 10 years. Technologically, our anniversary could be summed as "10 years of almost nothing".
- Ten years ago we were innovative. Five years ago we were on the top because of the social inertia. As we haven't done anything since then, we are now slowly going down, again because social inertia.
- Internet looks quite differently now, than it looked 10 years ago. 10 years ago, the most dominant social networking system was mailing list and Internet was the place dominated by techies. Today things are different. Social networking is incorporated into the sites. People are staying on sites not just because of the main purpose of the site, but because other reasons, too. Some of them want to play games, others want to socialize themselves. Wikimedia did nothing in that way.
- Without things attractive to young generations, we are doomed on implosion. Our system is not sustainable without getting new generations of editors because we are loosing them constantly.
- We need paradigm change. For example, we don't need to spend a cent on read-only mobile Wikipedia. We don't need to spend a cent on Wikipedia reach in countries with Internet. People need Wikipedia; they will find her. Mobile providers will make read-only version of Wikipedia. However, we have to spend all necessary resources on read-write mobile edition of Wikipedia.
- In August I wrote to Arne and Austin an email with two visible threats to the movement:
- During the next couple of years Wikimedian communities and organizations will be under increased corruption pressure. This pressure already exists, but its strength will increase. As our structure is quasi-state structure, with a lot of similar areas with real state structures, corruption can vary inside of the full range of corruption possibilities: from plainly financial and plainly political to the various combination of both.
- It also should be noted that we are coming under various types of pressures from outside: from business and various state structures. Most visibly, some or all Wikimedia projects are not visible in some countries and various businesses are trying to sue WMF and its chapters. However, the pressure already vary from personal influences to important members of the Wikimedia community to the more or less obvious influences of various state security agencies.
- My opinion is that this should be raised inside of the public document which would be the product of your work exactly because of safety of Wikimedia communities, organizations and projects. Publicly raised issues would discourage at least some part of persons and organizations which want to influence Wikimedia form inside or from outside.
- High level of amateurism among staff. While particular expertise of staff members is good, while they are professionals in their field, attitude toward Wikimedia movement is amateurish and that makes very bad picture of staff inside of the community. Just a couple of staff members don't have that kind of attitude. This is more than unacceptable and it is *already* making high gap between WMF as organization and community.
- A lot of *important* tasks inside of all Wikimedia bodies depend not just on personal initiative, but on personal worldview, frustrations, fears, wishes, as well as on personal contacts and soft bribery (the moment when real bribery would start to impact the movement is not so far; it is highly likely that it already exists). A lot of important tasks were not done just because influential enough Wikimedian doesn't like it.
- Jimmy has conflict of interest in relation to his Wikia business. That is probably the most important reason why Wikimedia doesn't have new projects. That has to be solved somehow.