Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Innovate in Free Knowledge

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Connection to other recommendations
Connection to other recommendations

This recommendation proposes the idea of bringing in new formats, welcoming communities to participate and interact with our projects to expand the scope and outreach of our Movement. The idea of equity is present across most of the recommendations, however the ‘Create Cultural Change for Inclusive Communities’, ‘Prioritize Topics for Impact’, and ‘Promote Sustainability and Resilience’ recommendations reinforce the arguments laid out for an inclusive, sustainable, supportive and healthy environment across our projects.

Wikimedia 2018-20 Recommendation 11.svg
In order to “become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge,” as a Movement, we need to expand the range of our free knowledge projects constantly. We have no way of knowing if textual, encyclopedic content will continue to be valued and fulfill the needs of knowledge consumers, just as we do not always include the knowledge of some marginalized communities.

By innovating in different content formats and technologies, that are and will be used in the future, along with experimenting with policies for knowledge inclusion, we can create new projects and adapt current ones to encompass content we do not cover yet to stay relevant on the Internet[1] and aim at knowledge equity.


Every free knowledge project is shaped by three characteristics related to a) what is available in terms of free/open policies, b) what kind of knowledge is accepted based on policies (e.g., Neutrality and Notability[2]) and c) how content is created and accessed by users based on the technological interface, their user epxerience and storage characteristics. These three characteristics enable and limit the amount of content that any free knowledge project can include.

Wikipedia’s characteristics have produced an encyclopedic, descriptive, and fact-based written knowledge, which has proven to be useful and successful, but it also has (intentionally) limited the content it includes. For example, because of not complying with notability and sourcing policies, some topics regarding under- and unrepresented communities are left out. Also, content such as audiovisual resources is not used in Wikipedia as widely as in other platforms.[3] Finally, there are also many important types of knowledge that are not encyclopedic in nature, yet valuable (e.g., journal articles, tutorials, or genealogies).[4] Therefore, we need to find innovative ways to overcome the limitations of Wikimedia projects in our goals of serving more free knowledge and including forms of knowledge of communities that are currently missing.


To innovate in free knowledge and stay relevant on the Internet, both delivering knowledge as a service and aiming at knowledge equity, we recommend an approach based on several actions.

Knowledge as a service. To stay relevant, we must be open to innovate and incorporate other kinds of free knowledge, offering projects as well as opportunities to build new functionalities based on our projects, which are interactions with multiple devices around the user and stored as data (audiovisual, textual, and spatial), meta-data, and algorithms. Even if Wikipedia remains relevant as a text-based repository, we have the opportunity to serve knowledge consumers better if we widen our scope and diversify by offering different types of free knowledge.[5] These could include a recombination of audiovisual and textual content, dimensional and geospatial content, augmented reality in context, computer-generated avatars, procedures for the user to test their knowledge acquisition, simulation scenarios, or so-called serious games as new project formats compatible with peer curation workflows.[6]

Knowledge equity. To address the content deficit of under and unrepresented communities, we must recognize that content related to these communities generally lacks the amount or quality sources that the western defined “Notability policy” requires, as they have not held positions of power and could not build the infrastructure to document it by the same methods.[7] Additionally, some knowledge, like oral heritage, is often in unwritten languages. Current technology and bureaucratic processes which hamper new project creation have not enabled creating an encyclopedia entirely/partially based on oral content.[8]

Communities that have unrepresented knowledge in our present platforms should be encouraged to create projects that respond to their needs. They are included in our Movement if they choose to be, and need access to learning and resources, as well as opportunities to network with other communities and pass on their experience and perspectives for the benefit of free knowledge.[9]

In regards to the languages whose knowledge does not have encyclopedic sources, to gather the sum of human knowledge, we require a policy framework to enable collecting it. Regular evaluation of each Wikimedia project is essential on our quest to expand free knowledge, remain relevant, and engage with a wider spectrum of partners and knowledge consumers. Community consultation will also be needed on whether we incorporate content with minimal notability limits as Wikisource, Wikidata, and Commons have done; change the interpretation of the current policies on other platforms;[10] or create new projects based on different notability requirements.

Expected outcomes
  • Create policies for continual experimentation with projects of various scales, measured by content usability for various audiences and obtaining more equitable coverage of knowledge.[11]
  • Create spaces for continual experimentation with projects based on multiple types of knowledge, content formats, and devices.[11]