community decides on rules of engagement -> information is accessible and streamlined -> legitimacy of conversations and of people increases -> advocates are efficient and confident
R1: A global network of Wikimedia advocates is built on community driven rules of engagement. Processes for decision making are known and comprehensible. There are established entry points for those who want to be involved or want to initiate advocacy activities.
Today the movement does not have a comprehensive understanding about how advocacy could be structured and organized and there are different models due to various contexts and circumstances. There is advocacy on the grassroot and self-determined level whenever community members start to do advocacy and there are more formal processes when the Wikimedia Foundation or other affiliate organizations are involved.
The contributing community does not always feel represented by active advocates. And for the latter there is no established feedback system.
Sometimes advocacy decisions need more time sensitive decision making that takes into account the need of keeping the community informed and able to participate. Especially decisions which have public resonance like blackouts of Wikipedia projects need a good organization, a known structure of roles and a stable community backing when we want them to be authentic and telling.
The environment for Wikimedia advocacy should be created in bottom up rather than top down, in a transparent and non-discriminatory manner with a huge focus on community processes. To increase the legitimacy of decisions and people involved in advocacy, all parts of the movement have to know where and how they can partake in conversations and decisions on local and global levels of advocacy.
Process and function should be thought together when establishing an advocacy environment which serves and supports advocates from the entire movement. Making those transparent to all users improves efficiency and makes it easier for people to find the right place to ask for support, to report issues and to learn and develop together with likeminded people.
There is a system of checks and balances which also includes how the role of a Wikimedia advocate is defined and how it can be given or taken. Advocate who are visible in campaigns and approachable for media should be known by the movement and in the respective communities. There is a process to ensure that the active advocates have the movement’s support. Advocates are able to present their ongoing and completed work to the rest of the community in a format that allows allows advocates across the movement to understand, learn from, and connect with that work.
What that system looks like is created by our communities in collaboration with affiliates and advocates.
This recommendation requires community input as much as input from an organizational point of view. If the Wikimedia movement wants advocacy which is owned by the community we have to pay the price of longer deliberation and language/culture challenges. The benefit is greater support, better understanding and more pattern building.
- The creation of advocacy rules of engagement has to include community input from as many communities as possible, best it is a community driven and elaborated process. Input and ideas can be put in any language. External advice from experts in organization development should be included as well to prevent over-regulation just because there is a drive to regulate every detail. The rules should be pillowed by the community, but still need flexibility and spaces to explore new areas of commitment.
- The advocates in the movement are obligated to report on their work to the community and the interested public. This includes advocating organizations like official affiliates as well as individuals. In special circumstances (see Recommendation 10) there needs to be an outline of circumstances making it impossible to report on the activities/disclosing details of advocates’ work.
- When we talk about advocacy we also talk about advocates and the opportunity to see advocacy as one area in the movement for people to join the movement. To make this happen, we need to know our advocates (organizations/affiliates and individuals). This could be done by a public list, where advocates may also share their main points of interest.
- We also need a process to become an advocate, because advocating is also a question of trust and common understanding of our vision and where and how it may be harmed. This process has to be inviting, there is no need to over-formalize the process and contribute to gate-keeping. We want a system which allows to working with people closely, starting small so that everybody can try and expanding as competences and trust grow. At the same time, by making sure people understand the messaging (Recommendation 6) and last but not least, having a robust crisis response and transparent rules so when somebody breaches the trust we can quickly and easily demonstrate this person does not represent us/does not reflect our values.