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Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/2019 Community Conversations/Product & Technology/fi

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Scoping format

What is your area of inquiry?

We have focussed on five areas believed to be relevant to our area of inquiry:

  1. Platform Evolution
  2. Feature/Software requirements
  3. Developer Community
  4. Funding
  5. Role in Society

What is the current situation?

Alustan kehitys

A 3-year WMF midterm planning process has started recently, to which the technology teams in WMF have contributed via the Platform Evolution Program. Although this program addresses many technology issues and opportunities, inclusion of and communication with the communities in their full diversity is still very low. There is need for a significantly stronger involvement of all types of community.

Feature/Software requirements

Although there is a continuous flow of new releases of user facing software, plans are not known to the community, development of new features and evolution of the platform is just happening without any clear steering from existing communities. Wikimedia movement lacks the structure for inclusive software development  and involvement of external stakeholders is negligible.


The WMF develops most of the software for Wikimedia projects. There are many smaller projects funded by chapters and individual grants, or supported through volunteer contributions. There isn’t a unified process that all projects or teams follow to attract developers to contribute to Wikimedia. Supporting the ecosystem is largely limited to operating the various services used for development and hosting tech and outreach events.

The developer community seems stable but is not growing and is not diverse. Economically, the ecosystem is reliant almost entirely on the WMF.


Most funding is brought in by individual donations and a few grants.

Role in Society

The present policies and structures of developing Wikimedia technologies and platforms are in sync with the larger developments that are happening in the ‘tech world’. While competitive  motivation and industry peer learning is always important, there seems to be a disconnect between the ‘function’ and the ‘role’ of technology in our society. The current activities in the technology area will give us tools and methods to overcome a problem and not think of solutions to have long term impact. The real world questions such as censorship and  proprietary softwares taking over free and open source mechanisms need to be considered for a healthy and participatory development of technology.


Why this scope?

It is aligned with the suggestions of the Core Team to “focus and prioritize the development of structures for continuous communication and ongoing connections between product / technology teams, groups, communities and other stakeholders in the movement and beyond”.

The aim of this work is accordingly to “create a sustainable and impactful platform not only for current and future product and technology needs of our movement, but also for driving the change towards becoming the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge.”

Because of that we have not included other aspects of strategy work beyond the suggestion of the core team which we believe are needed to meet the ambitions of our Strategic Direction.

Platform Evolution

Our platform is where coders, contributors and users meet.

Feature/Software requirements

Software is the platform where our content lives. Features are where our users interact with our content. We hope we can satisfy the software users better by organizing the movement structure and communication for the software development.

Developer community

To become part of the infrastructure for free knowledge, we must integrate the volunteer developer community effectively into the wider technological ecosystem around it.

To pursue knowledge equity, our product and technology contribution processes must attract a diverse set of contributors, engage and empower them to become active participants in it.

Technology is a power multiplier. To achieve the ambitious goals our movement has set, we must invest in the capacity building of groups that are both supporting and part of the developer ecosystem to grow our efforts.


The more money we have available for it the better we can provide infrastructure, keep the things running that we have and develop them further. But that is also connected to questions like: where is the money coming from? Should technology be a source revenue? Who decides how it is spent on technology development and support? (further here)

Role in Society

The role of technology is not only to devise tools to face existing problems,  it is also important to imagine future problems and think of ways of building alternate networks to overcome them. Wikimedia projects (Wikipedia with particular emphasis) have emerged as the gatekeeper for a healthy ecosystem of knowledge. Whether this will be a trend that our movement can keep up in the light of political and competitive pressure is important to discuss.


Scoping questions

What are the key questions within the scope of the Working Group?

Platform Evolution, Feature/Software requirements

  • What are comparable planning and development processes that help similar groups and organizations to set the right priorities and assure efficiency?
  • Which structures and processes can best match resources and expectations (incl. the voluntary developer community)?
  • Which are the structures and processes to assure the required level of inclusion in decision making and planning of the community at large in their full diversity ?

Developer community

  • How can we better attract, support and retain diverse technical contributors particularly: building and supporting local developer communities and prioritizing projects which will engage technical contributors?


  • Should software/tech be considered as a possible revenue-generating avenue? If the movement is to become “the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge”, should this position be leveraged financially?
  • What is the relationship between funding the Wikimedia Movement and funding the Mediawiki ecosystem?
  • What checks and balances do we need to make sure this serves the overarching Strategic Direction (By 2030, Wikimedia will become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge, and anyone who shares our vision will be able to join us.) and does not become an end in and of itself?

Role in Society

  • What risks and benefits to our market position and value proposition result from the movement strategy aims? What market opportunities and brand risks do the knowledge equity and access, implied need for programmatic and machine content creation interventions and anti-censorship efforts, bring? How will we adjust our products and platform strategies in light of these political risks and benefits?
  • Are there any technical capacities or technology-related movement structures that we are missing currently that would be helpful in detecting and avoiding risks that will lead us to ethical pitfalls.(As an example, Facebook is now operationalized in some parts of the world to incite and organize the lynching of minorities.) Is there a risk of Wikipedia being abused in a similar way?
  • What is the role of our technology in preserving/protecting access towards free knowledge, free speech, free software, and open internet platforms and standards?