Recommendation 13: Additional research for areas where we have identified issues but haven’t made recommendations
There are several areas where we have identified issues, but do not have the knowledge or resources to be able to offer quality recommendations. Wikimedia appears to have many issues it is unable or only partially able to solve by itself, which have a negative effect on its work. We recommend engaging with academics, professional practice and others to work on these issues including looking for existing solutions from other areas. This may include creating the necessary materials to help others outside of Wikimedia understand the situation. These areas include the following questions:
- How can we gain understanding and value from partners who understand Wikimedia from different perspectives?
- How can we capture our institutional memory so it is usable for all at all levels of engagement including sharing stories, successes and failures? What are other big institutions and global organizations do to help preserve their institutional memory?
- What are existing models for improving and maintaining documents used by other organisations?
- Partnerships are frequently individually led but perceived as movement owned. What support networks do individual organizers need? What existing models and theory is there that we could use?
- What happens to partnerships across time and how do we encourage knowledge and relationships to be transferred when people move in and out of them?
- How can we ensure there is fairness and accountability between all Wikimedia groups? Why isn’t this currently happening? E.g Currently the relationship between WMF and other Wikimedia orgs is not equal, with seemingly almost all power on one side - WMF has the power to break agreements and promises with apparently no consequences or repercussions, except reducing the quality of the relationship. Affiliates and individual grantees cannot do this, otherwise they can be defunded, unaffiliated, not get future funded etc.
- How can we ensure that all Wikimedia organizations receive the funds and other resources they need to fulfill their potential for partnerships? How do we know that this could be? Currently less than 10% of funds raised by WMF are given out as grants including APGs, the rest is spent by WMF or added to the endowment. WMF restricts the ability of chapters and user groups to raise money through Wikipedia in their own country. How can chapters and user groups reach ‘critical mass’ to be able to grow to a size needed to reach their potential in partnerships.
- How can we ensure that cultural biases and assumptions in how Wikimedia is structured and its rules and policies do not inhibit our overall goals within partnerships? E.g the popular American idea of small government, limited funding and market based solutions. E.g notability guidelines are based on the belief of a meritocracy in that notable subjects will be covered by third party sources. What models and theory is there to help us understand the ‘founder effects’ of Wikimedia and ways we can become aware of the issues related to this?
- How can we make collaboration with Wikimedia pleasant considering current community health issues leading to missed opportunities and poor outcomes for partners?
- How can we understand better and learn from the experiences of organizations working with Wikimedia?
That the Wikimedia community will continue to not be able to solve these issues on its own and may not be aware it has many of them.
Partnerships rely on many other areas of activity to be functional e.g community health, additionally partnerships have their own set of problems. Wikimedia has some issues which we have not been able to solve or have become worse over time. We may not be able to solve our own issues for many reasons including:
- The issues have been normalised and become 'invisible', the people who are most impacted by the issues do not join or leave the community,
- The solutions may lie with very specialist knowledge or experience which our community does not include or we do not listen to or the wisdom of the crowd is not an effective strategy for many issues.
- In many areas it is clear the challenges Wikimedia faces are not unique and that we can learn from research, individuals and other organisations. Despite being in some ways a very unique movement, we do not have to invent everything from scratch.
- It may be that the community does not have the skills and knowledge internally to improve the situation themselves or these people aren’t listed to..
Improvement of outcomes for partnerships and many other areas
Increased participation in Wikimedia projects
Improve content on Wikimedia projects
Some answers may be unwelcome or uncomfortable and could be rejected or be reacted against in the opposite direction
Could be perceived as ‘outsiders telling us what to do’
Many opportunities to progress are being missed because of Wikimedia does not have the internal capacity to understanding the academic research, existing successes and best practices in psychology, conflict resolution, other international organisations, tech companies, research on teams etc.