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Declaration of Intent on the Future of Free Knowledge
a.k.a.: To BOLDly go where no Wikimedian has gone before
In January 2017, we, the constituents of the Wikimedia movement, started an ambitious discussion about our collective future. We decided to reflect on our past sixteen years together and imagine the impact we could have in the world in the next decades. We thought we could define a common strategic direction that would unite and inspire us all across our movement on our way to 2030.
We were wrong.
Some of us write encyclopedia articles. Some of us develop software. Some of us donate money, others their time, others their expertise. Some of us curate data, sources, or media. Some of us organize events, advocate for copyright reform, or remix artwork. Some of us are community organizers, others wikignomes, others educators. Some of us do all of the above, and more.
What brings us together is not what we do; it’s why we’re doing it.
We are all part of this movement because we share a visceral, unshakable belief that free knowledge makes the world a better place. Every single human being deserves unrestrained access to knowledge and an opportunity to share back their own. That is non-negotiable. Knowledge is how, sixteen years ago, we chose to change the world.
Our movement is not just about knowledge, though. First and foremost, we are people, working together in different capacities. We are communities of knowledge. Our unique strength is the talent, dedication, and integrity of the individuals that make up our movement.
And across our discussions and research over the past few months, pieces of consensus have emerged regarding the future that these individuals want to build together.
What we agree on
We agree that we must support all contributors and provide a platform for them to contribute safely and productively amidst healthy conflict. We agree that our movement must remain open and participatory in all its aspects. We agree that we must provide opportunities for Wikimedians in the making to contribute throughout their life, beyond editing. We agree that our technology must evolve to new platforms and new interfaces. We agree that machines can multiply, but not replace, human efforts. We agree that we must address knowledge gaps and systemic biases.
We also agree on some of the ways we want to pursue our goals. We agree that governance must be distributed, both geographically and functionally. We agree that our greatest impact comes from local initiatives backed by global support. We agree that movement structures must adapt to our goals, not the other way around. We agree that experiments and pilots enable us to try new approaches with minimal risk. We agree that partnering with other organizations is the only way to increase our impact with limited resources.
This consensus serves to paint a picture of a future for our movement and its place in the world.
The future we are imagining for our movement
It is a future where our movement has become self-sustaining, global, and representative of humanity. By 2030, we will have strong, localized presences in every region in the world. We will give particular attention to emerging communities, minorities, and cultures that have been traditionally underserved, particularly in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and South America. Our distribution will ensure equitable participation and representation of the needs of all cultures and experiences.
It is a future where being a Wikimedian is a lifetime opportunity. By 2030, our movement will recognize and create space for diverse forms of participation and inclusion. People will have the ability to participate in our movement at every phase of their lives, as students, professionals, and retirees; as young and old. This participation will be more than a contribution to the online encyclopedia: to be a member of the Wikimedia movement is to believe in the importance of participating in free knowledge in every aspect of our lives.
It is a future where our movement has become indispensable to the knowledge and education infrastructure. By 2030, we will build a global infrastructure for free, open and verifiable knowledge. Our movement will be the leading advocate and partner for increasing the creation, curation, verification, distribution, and participation in free and open knowledge. We will embrace the cause of increasing its quality, depth, and breadth. We will support institutions and individuals on the journey to openness and collaboration.
It is a future where free knowledge has moved beyond the encyclopedia, beyond the website, beyond the connected world. By 2030, we will integrate, curate, create, and render free knowledge across a variety of interfaces, media, and experiences. We will empower individuals and institutions to participate and share through open standards and platforms. We will center around participatory quality free knowledge creation and dissemination, regardless of form or structure.
Our commitment for the coming year
Therefore, we, the undersigned, declare our intent to work together towards that future of free knowledge.
We commit to participating in the next phase of this discussion in good faith and to come to an agreement, by Wikimania 2018, on roles, responsibilities, and organizational strategies that enable us to implement that future.
We pledge to put the needs of our movement above our own, and to find the structures, processes, and resources for our movement that enable us to best progress towards our vision of a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.
- X Y, on behalf of Z