Recommendation # 2
Matching human assets and online knowledge resources with capacity building needs
We recommend establishing a system and process that connects Wikimedians
- with their peers and;
- with knowledge resources inside and outside the movement to meet their capacity building needs.
This recommendation will require the following elements:
- A searchable database of capacity building assets available to Wikimedians to include knowledge and skills resting with peers and their organizations across the movement.
- A curated online knowledge base with high quality capacity building resources on core and other capacities, as well as links to existing resources and other knowledge bases (how-to’s, online tutorials, templates)
- Dedicated staff who will connect people with each other for peer2peer or cohort-based capacity building.
- Dedicated staff who will sort, curate, and quality control content (e.g., similar role to GLAM librarians and Wikipedians in Residence)
Learning amongst peers is generally more effective than learning completely on one’s own (see also R3).
In order for Wikimedia to be the essential infrastructure and ecosystem, its people and its organizations must continuously develop and strengthen while the movement must be grown by new people and organizations joining. To be feasible and affordable,this requires a new system to promote and support decentralized strengthening from within, peer2peer, using flexible, innovative and culturally appropriate methods.
Harnessing the existing distributed intelligence of the movement will scale much better than a system that tries to build capacity from one single source.
When we talk about growing the movement, we envision growth in the sense of the synapses of a brain forming and firing across previously disconnected sections, while at the same time the whole movement also becomes larger by people joining, provided with helpful resources and connections right away.
Matching people to one another will require humans, in addition to platform technology. Due to the time commitment and expertise needed, paid staff will be accountable for implementation.
It is in the spirit of wiki (sharing and collaboration) that our resources be shared. For knowledge equity among Wikimedians, a shared basic knowledge base needs to be available and resources fundable for all, with a minimum set of fundamental elements that can be useful for building personal, organizational, and group capacity, without overly standardizing content, so that what is presented due to local or regional differences.
For example, all groups across the Movement eventually need support with fundraising or financial accounting, but the requirements will differ based on local laws, cultural or contextual needs, and pre-existing knowledge and ability. Over time, the creation of that knowledge base will lead to the emergence of a set of core capacities, as well as related subject matters experts from the communities. Some of the more technical expertise as well as educational/pedagogical competencies could be documented through certifications and related tags in the database of people/assets.
The knowledge base will be a web platform (probably not a traditional wiki) or portal, with a highly functioning search function, but also with humans to help users navigate this platform and ensure the content is tagged and findable. The platform will be user friendly, appealing, interactive and include a diversity of formats and approaches to learning. We will need a way to make contextually and culturally relevant content available in various languages, in order to make this platform inclusive.
- Large-scale outreach to advertise the base across the movement to create awareness of this resource
- Outreach to contributors, offering incentives to add themselves as assets and adding resources to the knowledge base
- Accessibility and findability of information, currently not a given.
- Knowledge base that connects with and brings order to the existing knowledge resources(Wikipedia, Meta, Commons, Outreach, Wikidata, wmflabs)
- Dedicated staff serving as content curator/information specialist (such as those working in GLAM or Wikipedians in Residence)
- Database logging the assets and the peer consults
- Proactively connecting people with warm handoffs
- Recognizing opportunities for and facilitating contextualized capacity building activities (see recommendationX)
- Providing direct access to translation/interpretation resources (see reco #)
- There will continue to be valuable knowledge in many communities (emerging and established) that can be shared by connecting people with one another.
- People will not necessarily be able to find people and information on their own, without an active way of connecting them with it.
- It takes a human and not just technology to match and to make sure a referral turns into a capacity building activity.
- A single set of core capacities will not work in every context, so they will need to be contextually adaptable to account for local or regional usefulness and language differences.
- Most Wikimedians do not speak English as their first language, but many of the resources created for the larger community are in English, and also are not shared with the community broadly. This is ineffective to build capacity.
Theory of Change: By creating a system that allows all ecosystem stakeholders to find the information, peers and resources they need, contribute their expertise and to find the expertise of others, we will facilitate the growth of capacity from within, forge beneficial connections between people and between organizations, and also create a culture of mutual learning and acceptance of differences in knowledge and skills.
In the old world, the WMF and some of the larger affiliates provided trainings, while volunteers were able to provide show and tells at conferences. This approach did not prove to contribute to building capacity as it was very small in scale and was not widely participatory nor accessible to those who could not be present or faced language limitations.
With this recommendation, we expect to change to a distributed peer network, facilitating communities of practice and high quality resources tested by many people in varying contexts.
The new element will collect ‘assets’ in the movement (e.g., people or organizations with specific skills, experience, or tools) based on a shared taxonomy so they can be matched with needs and requests. This allows peers to support each other in both thematic and geographic contexts to find the resources tailored to their needs, leading to a shared, searchable resource database that can grow over time.
Thanks to the knowledge base and the information specialists, stakeholders will save time, and have access to more appropriate knowledge resources, when before they had to research through a lot of unorganized organically assembled resources of questionable quality. Stakeholders across the movement will know where they can find the capacity building resources they need to meet the needs of their affiliates and other stakeholders and use them in practice, adapting as needed.
Key target groups will be Wikimedia stakeholders in need of capacity building resources of any sort that can help support and expand the movement. These could be volunteers new to the movement, groups making changes or going through growth steps, organizations building their core capacities, or partners from the larger knowledge ecosystem in need of help navigating the Wikiverse.
Risk: staff working on modifications on web sites that have several years without being updated, or introducing new platforms will no doubt lead to criticism, because part of the user base has ownership in content and the way these sites work.
Mitigation: Early on community ownership of content and design, combined with compromise solutions in terms of letting various avenues of discovery co-exist. Clear and frequent communication between the content curator and the communities,using appropriate means (i.e. mailing lists, village pumps, Café de Wikipedia, bulletins, talk pages, etc.)
This recommendation would demonstrate a shift from reactive, one-way community support provided by WMF to proactive mutual community peer support. Dedicated staff and resources would mean individuals and groups would have access to resources that are accessible and developed with growth in mind. Currently to find resources, support or partnership in the movement, individuals/communities must navigate multiple spaces to find relevant information while receiving little to no technical support around out of date web platforms and must base their own growth trajectory on the examples of others.
Building Capacity for Capacity Building (Recommendation 1) -- these two recommendations are closely aligned and will not work without each other.
Capacity Building in context (Recommendation 3) -- the decentralized work building capacities in regions or thematic context can be triggered by this centralized system in that it recognizes context clusters (e.g lots of user groups asking governance questions, or many wikimedians in SE Asia asking for translation resources), can help build cohorts and facilitate sub-communities of practice. It can also support the context work by providing experts and knowledge resources, and in turn benefits from the documentation and evaluation generated by CB projects to further expand and improve the knowledge base towards a collection of promising/good practices.
Capacity Building Resources (Recommendation 5) -- this recommendation will require significant, long-term resources for staff, consulting and technical infrastructure. Staff employed here will refer to other staff concerned with providing grants for capacity building projects.
Online Training (Recommendation 7) -- content developed here will be linked in knowledge base, and vice versa. Content choices may be informed by demand (as in, by logged requests to the knowledge and peer expert bases)
Roles and Responsibilities: this recommendation requires creating the ‘capacity building unit/organization’, (R10) which includes staff, tech infrastructure, budget, and autonomous decision making/governance. Where this unit will be positioned in the new movement, depends partly on the recommendations of WG: R&R.
Partnerships: Many of the resources collected will pertain to collaboration with partners in the larger ecosystem.
The knowledge base will have tags for types of stakeholders a given resource may be helpful for - one of these tags could be types of ‘non-wikimedia’ partners.
Diversity: providing access to knowledge resources and materials in English and a few other languages will not create knowledge equity within the movement, let alone the world. Therefore, the recommendations of the WG: Diversity around access to resources for multiple language communities will have to take into account capacity building.
Several community members have suggested that the database be a Wikibase.
For Context: Topical areas that could emerge as categories in the databases if deemed important by communities may include, but are not limited to:
- Governance and Management of affiliates, groups, or organizations:
- Financial management
- Reporting / evaluation
- Event management
- Human resources (volunteer management, staff)
- Community outreach
- Communication ( PR, media, community relations)
- Organizational capacities:
- Collaborative capacity (partnerships)
- Adaptive capacity (resiliency)
- Innovative capacity (ability to create out of the box)
- Technical capacity (IT, facilities, operations)
- Advocacy capacity (lobbying, speaking for the cause of free knowledge)
- Human interaction/Interpersonal capacities:
- Leadership development
- Community Organizing
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
- Volunteer recruitment and engagement
- Public speaking and self-presentation
- Conflict resolution/mitigation
- Non-violent communication
- Dealing with Adversity (some of these need to be addressed at movement level)
- Being a Wikimedian in dangerous political environments
- International travel/visa
- IT safety
Dave Snowden’s mantra is that for every $1 invested in knowledge management, 90 cents should go toward enabling connections and only 10 cents toward building content. Connecting people allows us to leverage not just codified knowledge inside the network but also more tacit knowledge by providing the space for people to create things together.
“All we’ve been doing in the past 30 or 40 years is consistently failing and trying to replace knowledge with information and human communication with virtual interaction. “