Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2017/Sources/WMF Advisory board

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What group or community is this source coming from?

name of group WMF Advisory Board
virtual location (page-link) or physical location (city/state/country) online
Location type (e.g. local wiki, Facebook, in-person discussion, telephone conference) online
# 25 contacted


The summary is a group of summary sentences and associated keywords that describe the relevant topic(s). Below is an example.

The first column (after the line number) should be a single sentence. The second column should be a comma-separated list of keywords about that sentence, and so on. Taken together, all the sentences should provide an accurate summary of what was discussed with the specific community.

Line Statement (summary sentence) keywords
1 [Example 1: Sentence] Wikimedia stands for a purity of knowledge and facts, untainted by commercial interests or political agendas, and promotes a knowledge culture of balanced information and cited sources. [Example 1: Keywords] independence, verifiability, facts matter
2 [Example 2: Sentence] We should explore new kinds of knowledge spaces, embracing innovation in order to survive and thrive in 2030. [Example 2: Keywords] innovation, forms of knowledge

Summary for the discussion:

Line Statement (summary sentence) Keywords

If you need more lines, you can copy them from Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2017/Sources/Lines.

Detailed notes (Optional)[edit]

If you have detailed notes in addition to the summary, you may add them here. For example, the notes may come from an in-person discussion or workshop. If your discussion happened on a wiki or other online space, you do not need to copy the detailed notes here.

Person 1
One of my largest concerns for the future of the Wikimedia movement is civil discourse. This is not to say I think it’s the most important aspect, but it’s the one in my wheelhouse and it’s one of the few culture issues where change needs to be both top-down and bottom-up. Realistically while power is distributed as much as is practical in the Wikimedia movement, certain important decisions still happen at high levels that affect large numbers of people in a broader area of Wikipedia’s “working class” (i.e. those who are not admins who do a lot of work adding/editing the bulk of public-facing Wikipedias). I think more stewardship and support of diversity and engagement within Wikimedia needs to be modeled and managed at higher levels. This has been happening, I think it’s important that it continue and ramp up.
Wikimedia has often been dominated by a very word-heavy approach to dispute resolution and process-oriented administration which rewards people with time and skills to participate in this way and inhibits (in my opinion) casual interactions. It can be difficult to communicate, difficult to learn the rules, and difficult to feel that you’re on a level playing field with people with more time and/or verbal abilities. As Wikimedia moves towards prioritizing getting more uptake from the non-internet-people of the world, it needs to examine methods for on-boarding that don’t seem quite so much like literacy tests and more like environments where everyone has something to contribute and those contributions are valued. Media attention on high-volume contributors and high-level WMF disputes and drama needs to be countered with more person-on-the-street reportage that is more accessible, shareable and explicable.
Recent (past few years) staffing shake-ups have been bad for morale and, from my slightly removed WMF Advisor perspective, I’m concerned that the boat hasn’t quite been righted yet. I’d like a way, personally, to get “briefed” about this situation with the limited time and effort I have available.

Person 2
My main concerns and hopes for the Wikimedia movement are:

  • How do we make the editing experience not suck?
    • How can we better separate new editors trying sincerely from vandals and PR?
    • What’s the best interface to make new editors more comfortable?
    • What kind of social support can we easily, simply, and effectively offer online?
  • How do we make Wikimedia look more like the world it belongs to?
    • What incentives+protection can we offer to non-white-male-teenagers?
    • Are we willing to let toxic -and- productive Wikipedians go?
    • Can we reward enabling and mentoring new editors as much as editing?

Person 3

  1. How do we mitigate against the risks and contemporary forces which are “closing” the open web? The prominence of social media has come with new risks of large corporations creating “walled gardens” (eg. by Facebook) - this is a substantive risk for open communities like the WMF family of projects.
  2. How do we ensure ongoing commitment to free cultural works? (in particular open source technology infrastructure). The WMF is one of the first organisations to adopt free cultural works approved licensing policies for its suite of websites and has been a bastion of open leadership. This includes the commitment to open standards and the use of free and open source software (FOSS) for enterprise infrastructure. Increasingly we are seeing open organisations renege on their commitments to FOSS forcing members of open communities to sacrifice their freedoms in software choices, see for example the decision by Creative Commons HQ to migrate community discussions to the proprietary Slack platform. (I will refrain from commenting on the use of Google docs ;-)).
  3. How do we build agility into our strategy? In a fast changing landscape, it is risky to build a static 10 year strategy. Perhaps the solution is to incorporate scenario planning and foresighting methodologies into an evergreen strategic plan (a living strategic plan which can adopt and adapt to changing needs.)
  4. What is the role of the WMF in relation to creating sustainable futures? The relates to the question of our relationship with the sustainable development goals.

Person 4
What will guide our work together over the next 15 years?

I hate to say this, but it is not the passion for the mission that will guide the work of 95% of our community, rather it is usually a passion for a certain topic, and wanting to document their knowledge which is a driver for a large part of our community. At the same time this leads to the risk which comes with a declining community health. We are already scaring away a lot of people who really do want to share what they know but that feel alienated by the behavior of certain existing community members. These are not incidents, these are trends (and is also one of the leading reasons why we are not able to close the gender gap, leading to a huge disbalance in the knowledge we manage to make available)

What impact or change do we want to have on the world over the next 15 years?

We are kind of unique in that we do now simply focus on making our knowledge available in an open fashion, but we also encourage others to use it through different outlets… The result should be not just a way of increasing the scope of “the sum of all knowledge” but also increase the many different ways in which we are able to get that knowledge to those that need it most.

What is the single most important thing we can do together over the next 15 years?

Welcome and guide new contributors, on anhy level

What will unite and inspire us as a movement for the next 15 years?

Not just a mission, but a sense of purpose. An example would be that I think that a lot more people could get behind the goal of a complete and accurate wikipedia, rather than the more idealistic Wikimedia MIssion (which they are not opposed to ,but simply do not care as much for as something as simple as an accurate wikipedia)

What will accelerate our progress over the next 15 years?

Daring community leadership from the foundation, not just nurturing the community, but a willingness to take bold, paradigm shifting iniatives …. And support similar initiatives no matter where they come from. The power of the foundation is the ability to scale those community initiatives that seem to have potential, and increase their impact.

What will we be known for in the next 15 years?

We run the risk of being known as that source of knowledge which is a given, which is simply there, and which you don’t really have to contribute to in either participatory of monetary form … (it is simply there is it not?)
We want to be known as the movement that helped shape a new generation in terms of knowledge and media skills, and taught this generation that this univeral body of knowledge is something worth fighting for and contributing to.

Person 5
I have two thoughts for the direction of the Wikimedia movement over the next 15 years:

  1. First, the goal of bring more diversity to the Wikipedia community remains vital and it is unfortunate that we have not made more progress over the period since we developed the last movement strategy. It is vital because at some point (within 15 years) Wikipedia risks its legitimacy if it isn’t able to represent the diverse knowledge needs of the globe. There is no easy answer to diversity, but it should remain a “hard” problem that the movement works on.
  2. Second, I see the Wikimedia movement as a pillar of a free and open internet which is under attack from corporations and governments around the world. There are vital human interests in a free and open internet that can and should be the target of new investment by the Wikimedia movement. Many others can speak much more eloquently than me on the subject. This might include whole new categories of free knowledge in which Wikimedia already has a strong grounding. More broadly though, I would love to see the movement find ways to enable the protection of identity (and anonymity), while enabling people to benefit from the knowledge, communications, health and commerce capabilities of the Internet without trading away all sorts of personal information.

I see a real schism in those thematic statements that I'd loosely define as

  1. . Wikipedia should change/grow/expand/innovate/disrupt
  2. Wikipedia should work on its internal issues to be the best it can be within the established model its set up because there's still work to be done there

It may be that others don't see this the same way I do, but I feel like, for example, it's going to be pretty challenging to be both "disruptively innovative" and have a place where everyone feels welcome and safe. Not that these aren't great goals to work towards, but I appreciated the note acknowledging that yes this is hard but we want to "go to the moon" metaphorically speaking.

I think the thing I'd like to see that seems like it's missing is for Wikipedia to be a leader in inclusive user-centered design so that the site itself is a delight to interact with and encourages engagement at multiple levels. This includes some of the stuff mentioned--languages, inclusion, multimedia, multisensory stuff--but should also include stuff like working on any computer/bandwidth configuration and finding a way to deal with how much READING is involved in every part of getting heavily involved in Wikipedia. I love to read but I see that as a severe impediment to increased inclusion and diversity issues: there is one way, it's the Wikipedia way and if you don't really click with the endless long discussion threads, you're going to have a hard time segueing from an editor to something more. So finding a way to put that, I'm not sure what it would be. Retention? Determining how much Wikipedia changes to meet the needs of the non-Wikipedians? Something.