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

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Connection to other recommendations
Connection to other recommendations

This recommendation proposes the idea of ascertaining priority regarding topicals needs according to varying contexts. It is supported by the recommendations: ‘Evaluate, Iterate and Adapt’, ‘Promote Sustainability and Resilience’ and ‘Create Cultural Change for Inclusive Communities’.

What
Wikimedia 2018-20 Recommendation 10.svg
In order to “become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge” and to advance the world equitably, we must consider our great responsibility. As a Movement, we need to conceptualize our content not just in terms of quantity, but also in terms of which kinds may have more useful impact globally.[1]

For this, we must track and understand how we impact knowledge consumers’ lives, prioritize initiatives and areas of content so as to maximize that impact, and build the capability to protect it when necessary. This shift requires a transformation of our culture and practices in the way we evaluate the content and the creation of supporting tools.

Why
Why

Our ultimate reason for curating and sharing knowledge is to empower people to improve their lives. Yet, we do little to understand when and how that happens.[2] Without understanding why people need the knowledge we curate, and how well we are helping them to succeed at those goals, we cannot prioritize how to make our content accessible, understandable, and useful for them.[3] We cannot compare initiatives focusing on different articles or areas of content. But, we know some topics can provide much more personal and societal value to knowledge consumers and are relevant to a much larger audience. We lack the detailed know-how and tooling to prioritize processes for that insight.

A solid understanding of how our content is used and abused, and a willingness to act on it, is necessary for staying relevant in a dynamic technological and social environment,[4] where information is consumed universally, and adversaries ranging from lone spammers to nation-states are interested in distorting it or preventing access.[5] Failure to emphasize our impact and relevance discounts the potential of free knowledge and can have repercussions on the sustainability of the Movement. By ignoring those differences when we prioritize our work, we are not fully recognizing the impact we could have, nor actively managing the responsibility it brings.

How
How

To prioritize efforts on topics aiming at having an impact on the world, we recommend an approach based on several actions. The evaluation of our impact must include assessment of how well we support knowledge equity so we can focus our efforts on the communities that have been left out by structures of power and privilege,[6] and address global challenges (such as those described in the Sustainable Development Goals).[7] At the same time, we must acknowledge the human and financial sustainability of the Movement as a necessary prerequisite to long-term impact (even if priorities differ in the short term). Remembering that we are in it for the long haul, strategic choices that enable or protect future impact must be prioritized over immediate impact.

Furthermore, we need to respect our long-standing principles of welcoming everyone who shares our vision of free knowledge, and their free will to contribute to any topic while respecting content neutrality guidelines.[8] The ability for a participant to bring their knowledge to the world is empowering. We must continue to support editorial control and opening new pathways for all stakeholders to prioritize content according to their specific wants and needs.

To better understand how we empower people to improve their lives, we must invest more into research on how our content gets used (and misused). To be able to evaluate it at scale, we need to build human and technical capacity for measuring impact.[9] That includes measuring the coverage, quality and verifiability of content, detecting threats to it with significant potential for real-world harm (such as misinformation or scams),[10] and measuring the public’s trust in our content and their ability to access and understand it.[11]

Prioritizing topics[12] or content with larger impact requires special focus on certain topics, tracking their completion, dissemination, and impact. For this, we must change our practices and improve metrics, reporting, evaluation, prioritization, advocacy, and partnership practices so that they can help differentiate between different areas of content based on their capacity for world impact.[13] We also need to make sure that our volunteers have the time to work on content by supporting them in administrative and organizational tasks that compete for their free time.

We must identify the high-impact areas where content is missing or insufficient, and look for ways to fill the gaps.[14] This involves community initiatives, outreach, grants and other funding, partnerships, and exploring future technology trends such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.[15] In environments where both editors and content are missing (or content is known to be biased), advocacy and capacity building about content creation and neutral writing must be a priority. Regional support structures could play a pivotal role in this.

Expected outcomes
  • Conduct research and analysis to provide a clear list of topics that have the greatest impact on the world and on knowledge consumers’ lives.[16]
  • Establish the tools and know-how necessary for evaluating and tracking content and its potential and actual impact at a detailed level.[17]
  • Organize discussions to improve our shared understanding among different Movement stakeholders of impact, principles, and the effective ways to measure it.[18]
  • Assess geopolitical risks which impact our content across different projects to minimize the effects of misinformation.[19]
  • Support volunteers working on high-impact areas in activities that indirectly affect time dedicated to content generation, such as capacity building and community organization.[20]
  • Develop processes and relationships to work with specialized partners who can assist in prioritizing topics.[21]
References
References
  1. Reinforce that the intentional Movement prioritization in the Terms of Use for editorial control will not be impaired, so volunteers will continue to choose what want to work on freely.
    Reference:
    Partnerships R1: Provide the knowledge needed for understanding and solving global issues, Diversity R6: Establishing partnerships in order to represent and protect
  2. Resource Allocation RI: Include knowledge consumers, Research:Measure Mission Success
  3. Morocco Strategy Salon, July 2019, Capacity building thematic area
  4. Considering 2030: Future of literacy and learning
  5. Considering 2030: Future of the commons
  6. Our strategic direction: Service and Equity
  7. Partnerships R1: Provide the knowledge needed for understanding and solving global issues
  8. Movement Strategy Cycle 3 Summary Report
  9. Diversity R2: Reaching a self-aware and dynamic structure
  10. Considering 2030: Misinformation, verification, and propaganda
  11. Product & Technology R9: Monitoring Product Trust and Availability
  12. Morocco Strategy Salon, July 2019, Capacity building thematic area
  13. Arabic community conversations, August/September 2019, Capacity Building thematic area, Egypt/Spain Strategy Salon community conversations, June 2019, Capacity Building thematic area
  14. OFWA Strategy salon, Aug 2019, Diversity thematic area, Côte d'Ivoire Youth Salon, Aug 2019, Diversity thematic area
  15. Considering 2030: Misinformation, verification, and propaganda, Hindi Speaking Community - March / April 2019
  16. Resource Allocation RI: Include knowledge consumers, Diversity R6: Establishing partnerships in order to represent and protect worlds’ cultural diversity
  17. Resource Allocation RI: Include knowledge consumers
  18. Partnerships R1: Provide the knowledge needed for understanding and solving global issues, Partnerships R5: Focus on knowledge equity when determining priorities for Partnerships, Diversity R6: Establishing partnerships in order to represent and protect worlds’ cultural diversity
  19. Product & Technology R9: Monitoring Product Trust and Availability
  20. Capacity Building R9: Recognizing and Supporting Individuals, Advocacy R8: Empowerment of advocates
  21. Egypt/Spain Strategy Salon community conversations, June 2019, Partnerships thematic area