Our vision for partnerships
Our users are enabled by the knowledge Wikimedia shares to positively change the world. Our vision is that by 2030, partnerships will be fundamental to having helped them achieve these changes.
Wikimedia proves that collaboration on a massive scale, with the ability to reach billions of people is possible. Yet if we aim to solve humanity’s biggest challenges, such as those outlined in the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, we cannot do this alone.
Systemic change that we want to attain requires us to build new alliances and to work across sectors with academia, businesses and governments. In order to be effective, these partnerships need to be based on trust and the will to help each other.
We need to work with partners to provide “the sum of all knowledge”. By building partnerships, we also acknowledge that we have a role in attaining other global goals and solving systemic challenges.
Partnerships are a crucial means for our movement to adapt and grow. Our partners contribute to our projects and they are part of our movement. And Wikimedia gets value from partners far beyond the content that they provide. Partners make our movement not only bigger, but also more diverse and equitable and help it understand itself better. And in hard times, partnerships are means to survive in a sustainable way, together.
Through partnerships, we can also influence people’s mindsets and change other organizations and institutions. We believe that global sustainability requires more people and institutions to support the commons and peer collaboration. This is an impact we have beyond sharing knowledge.
Partnerships need to be based on a decentralised and participatory vision of systemic change. Wherever it is possible, we need to devolve power from hierarchies to trusted networks of relationships and partnerships.
We acknowledge that people are at the heart of successful partnerships. Our movement needs to support individual leadership that supports partnership building.
Wikimedia has an important role in reaching a more positive future, we can only achieve this through working with others.
Principles of Partnerships
- Agency: Different partner organizations will have different motives and goals. Alignment with our vision should not compromise agency of any of the organizations coming together in a partnership.
- Scaling up: Partnerships should provide context specific opportunities for scaling up. Partnerships are necessary to fuel the growth of Wikimedia over the next decade.
- Collaboration and Inclusion: Partnerships must strive to bring new voices, amplifying efforts to sustain new practices and pave the way for new opportunities. An open exchange of lessons learnt and course correction if necessary.
- Resources: Partnerships must be adequately resourced (human and monetary). These resources must allow for a growth curve and experimental activities.
- Vision: Partnerships must align in terms of the vision. From the perspective of the Wikimedia Movement, they should be able to expand the impact of the Strategic Direction 2030. Wikimedia movement needs to be open to other visions of strategic impact, brought into a partnership by the partners.
- Evaluation: Impartial evaluation about the successes and failures of partnerships and initiatives is important for the health of the partnerships.
- Systemic vision: Partnerships should not be considered individually. We need to think of the sum of partnerships as a greater whole that lets us all work collectively to achieve our vision.
Strategic priorities for partnerships
- Partnerships that ensure the survival of crucial knowledge and heritage
- Partnerships that support mutual work on a more sustainable society
- Partnerships that fill knowledge gaps in Wikimedia content
- Partnerships that increase equitable participation in Wikimedia projects
- Partnerships that support long-term sustainability of the Wikimedia movement
- Partnerships with organizations and projects that are aligned with us in terms of vision and values
- Partnerships that strengthen and support advocacy of values that we believe in; that defend free knowledge from political and economic harm
- Partnerships based on the distributed vision of partnership management
- Partnerships that engage different movement entities and in particular strengthen those with lesser capacity
Partnership Working Group Recommendations
Our recommendations are divided into three categories. The first two align our recommendations with the two elements of the Movement Direction: Knowledge as a service and Knowledge equity. The third category relates to capacity building for partnerships.
Knowledge as a service
To serve our users, we will become a platform that serves open knowledge to the world across interfaces and communities. We will build tools for allies and partners to organize and exchange free knowledge beyond Wikimedia. Our infrastructure will enable us and others to collect and use different forms of free, trusted knowledge.
Recommendation 1: Provide the knowledge needed for understanding and solving global issues
Q 1 What is your Recommendation?
“Where your talents and the needs of the world meet is where you will find your true purpose”
For Wikimedia to become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge we recommend:
- Prioritise and properly resource partnerships so that Wikimedia provides all the information needed to fulfill the large global challenges the world faces, including those outlined in the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
- Make our model of collaboration on a massive scale more understandable so other communities and network can learn from and reuse it, as they pursue their own missions.
Q 2-1 What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make this Recommendation?
Wikimedia will continue to be an educational resource with an extremely large audience and play a central role in internet user’s education in many parts of the world.
That Wikipedia’s audience will continue to grow in line with growth in internet users.
Partnerships continue to be a valuable way of improving content on Wikimedia projects.
Q 2-2 What is your thinking and logic behind this recommendation?
In 2016 the Wikimedia Foundation asked people what Wikipedia meant to them:
“Wikipedia is why, even though I spent most of my adult life out of school as a refugee, when I finally got to a safe place and into a university I was able not only to compete with my peers, but to excel.”
Wikipedia’s impact on the Sustainable Development Goals is hard to measure, but its still happening.
The world faces extremely large global challenges, such as those outlined in the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The world has less than 12 years to halve carbon emissions to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown, and that humans are causing species extinctions at least 1000 times faster than the natural rate.
These challenges represent an existential threat to our readers, contributors and to Wikipedia itself. The solutions and change to meet these challenges is likely to come from our readers and Wikimedia is likely to be a major source of knowledge for them, people are already looking to Wikipedia for answers. 500 million people visit 20 billion Wikipedia pages in 300 languages every month, our users are enabled by the knowledge Wikimedia shares to positively change the world.
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals needs action from governments, NGOs, community groups, companies and individuals. The information needed to reach the Sustainable Development Goals is currently spread over 1000s of websites making it extremely hard to find. A World Bank study showed that a third of their reports had never been read and only 13 percent had been read more than 250 times.
Given Wikipedia’s audience and the context of the Sustainable Development Goals Wikimedia also has responsibilities to provide content that will help us reach the Sustainable Development Goals and other global issues. Wikimedia has a unique role to play in the goals as the central knowledge repository of the information needed to reach these goals, given its unique structure and reach it may be the only movement that can do this.
Additionally we are a model for collaboration on a massive scale, something that will be needed to overcome these global challenges.
We have a responsibility and a part in overcoming these challenges and partnerships will be fundamental to having helped them achieve these changes.
Q 3-1 What will change because of the Recommendation?
The information will be available on Wikimedia to understand and make the change needed to resolve these global challenges.
Q 3-2 Who specifically will be influenced by this recommendation?
Wikimedia Foundation, including the grants program
Individual contributors, an opportunity to contextualise and show the impact of their work, connecting them to their intrinsic motivation, opportunity to grow the community, interested in global problems.
Organizations providing the knowledge needed to reach global goals
Q 4-1 Could this Recommendation have a negative impact/change?
Some contributors may see these issues as Wikimedia ‘taking sides’ or ‘being political’ especially in countries where climate change, human rights and other issues have become politically charged e.g the US. This may mean they see intrinsic bias in providing certain information as ‘politically motivated bias’.
Some contributors who are hostile to WMF may purposely or accidentally conflating that these recommendations are coming from WMF and saying WMF is trying to control what they are writing about.
Some contributors may confuse prioritisation of content with bias in the content.
Some contributors may feel like they are being discriminated against because the topic they care about is not included in the prioritisation.
Q 4-2 What could be done to mitigate this risk?
Make clear this recommendation isn’t coming from WMF and isn’t about influencing the neutrality of the content, but prioritising the creation of content based on need, recognition of impact and limited resources which should be used strategically.
Q 5 How does this Recommendation relate to the current structural reality?
Currently we are having a large impact but not really acknowledging it or the responsibility it brings or thinking how to increase it on a strategic level.
Currently information to understand or solve these issues is not easily accessible
Q 6-1 Does this Recommendation connect or depend on another of your Recommendations?
Q 6-2 Does this Recommendation connect or relate to your Scoping Questions?
Q 7 How is this Recommendation connected to other WGs?
Lots, needs discussion at sprint
Q 8 Do you have anything to add that was not covered with previous questions, yet essential for understanding the recommendation?
Many organizations contextualise their work with SDGs or other global frameworks, if Wikimedia were to do the same it would make it much easier to match the priorities and shared areas of interest between these partners and Wikimedia