Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Identify Topics for Impact

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Identify Topics for Impact
Wikimedia 2018-20 Recommendation 10.svg

What

A brief video recording about this recommendation

Our Movement achieves impact any time someone’s life is enriched by using the content on Wikimedia projects or by participating in those projects. However, at present, we do not understand this impact well or have tools to measure it. We do not have the tools to identify which topics are most impactful in the world. The strategic direction sets out the need to develop and increase access to content that has historically been left out by structures of power and privilege. Alongside this, there are other areas that are likely to have high impact – for instance, content on major topics regarding humanity and its future, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

When thinking about Wikimedia projects, we will value our content not just in terms of quantity, but also in terms of impact. We will respect and support the inalienable freedom of Wikimedians to contribute according to their interests. At the same time, we will encourage improving coverage of collectively-identified priority topics that impact our world and improve people’s lives. Our projects will benefit from efforts of creating content based on the understanding we gain from research on topics and from prioritizing resources towards addressing identified gaps.

Changes and Actions

  • Research how our content is used, measuring the coverage, quality, and verifiability of content, the public's trust, and their ability to access and understand our content. This will give us a better understanding of the different ways in which Wikimedia content can make an impact on improving people’s lives.
  • Understand how our projects can be misused or abused by detecting threats with significant potential for harm (such as misinformation, disinformation or scams).
  • Conduct and support research and analysis to identify topic areas that have a high impact on the world and on knowledge consumers.
    • This requires developing tools to analyze content, creating a shared understanding of impact among Movement stakeholders, and developing relationships with specialized partners.
    • Map topic areas in close collaboration with projects, partners and local communities to benefit from their expertise and ensure their autonomy and independence.
  • Implement initiatives and prioritize resources to fill content gaps on topics which may have more impact, while respecting our long-standing principles of welcoming everyone who wishes to contribute to any topic within each project’s guidelines. This might involve community initiatives, outreach, stipends, grants and other funding, partnerships, and employing methodologies supported by technology, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • Advocate for and build capacity around content creation and quality writing in areas where both editors and content are missing (or content is known to be biased), for example through regional and thematic hubs.

Rationale

Knowledge equity cannot be achieved without efforts to add content that has historically been left out. This focus will bring new content and new users to our Movement. Without understanding why people need the knowledge we curate, we cannot make our content as accessible, understandable, and useful for their lives as it can be. For this reason, it is necessary to research the different types of impact content may have and raise awareness about them to communities.

We cannot compare initiatives focusing on different thematic areas or topics. However, we know that some topics can provide much more personal and societal value to knowledge consumers and are beneficial to a much larger audience to take positive action in their lives and in their context. Some content deals with topics that are necessary to make decisions or give an understanding of what affects people directly, such as the biography of a candidate during elections or an affected area during a natural disaster. Failing to focus on the impact and relevance of content discounts the potential of free knowledge and can have repercussions on the sustainability of our Movement.