Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Sprint/Community Health/5
Investing in building an inclusive global community
Q 1 What is your Recommendation?
Lay the foundations for succeeding in building the inclusive global community we need to realize the strategic direction; to that end the movement has to:
- Provide scalable multi-lingual online training and learning infrastructure covering a wide range of voluntary skills and capacity building as well as mandatory training and re-certifications (after 2 years) for user rights groups with access to non-public information (“functionaries”). These groups include the traditional NDA’ed groups with access to nonpublic personal data like checkuser, OTRS agents, oversight, and stewards. It also includes all administrators, who traditionally have access to other non-public material, as well as the need to preserve access to information and raw IPs that Wikimedia traditionally has considered non-personal, but an increasing number of jurisdictions consider nonpublic personal data (see Recommendation “Privacy and security for everyone”). Topics for mandatory trainings and certifications include but are not limited to:
- Volunteer self-care,
- Community conflict resolution,
- Adequate support of people with mental health challenges in online environments,
- Diversity and inclusion,
- Universal Code of Conduct (see Recommendation Joint set of rules),
- Digital security basics for volunteers with access to non-public information as well as general security best practices (See “Privacy and security for everyone”), and
- Risk identification and escalation for issues that volunteers should not be handling but passing over to professionals.
- The training (re-)certifications demonstrate skill levels and results should be provided in a format that is re-usable by the people certifying for other purposes, demonstrating the skills they have gained in the trainings.
- Training modules covering sensitive topic areas, like support of users experiencing mental health challenges, are recommended to be written and maintained by partner organizations and professionals partnering transparently with the infrastructure provider.
- Affiliates and other local online and offline structures of support and self organisation with a role profile and resourcing are recommended to play an important role in contextualisation and context-sensitive localization.
Q 2-1 What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make this Recommendation?
Lack of shared sense of belonging: The current Wikimedia community does not have a shared understanding of social dynamics within the ecosystem itself and how it relates to the world at large. Therefore, it is more appropriate to describe it as a number of communities mainly interacting in limited ways due to being reliant on the same platform service provider. Providing certifiable skills training would support the strategic direction’s knowledge equity aims by supporting people of different backgrounds to contribute to and use the platform. A social online movement confronted with an increasingly complex world needs to foster a shared group leadership learning space and experiences to build a common group identity and, based on it, direction that helps it to flexibly adapt to local circumstances.
Unequal access within the movement: Currently, relevant education and training resources are limited in both scope and quality. Access to these materials is not equitably distributed, often including language and other barriers, and thereby reinforces existing problems.
Lack of local policies and self-governance: Disadvantages flowing from lack of shared belonging and access to resources are particularly strong in smaller communities: less than 15% of Wikipedia language versions have, at least, one specifically local behavioral policy guiding the community in its social challenges, and more than 300 wikis have no local administrators who could apply such policies on local terms even if they existed. Smaller Wikipedia communities have often imported older versions of the complex rules framework of the English language Wikipedia, creating major policy obstacles for their own development as communities in very different stages of development and cultural backgrounds in the process. There is also no current data at hand that evaluates across the platform whether communities have effective processes in place to implement such policies. However, the working group assumes, for the purposes of this recommendation, that it is unlikely that communities without localized policies do have effective processes regardless.
95% of wiki communities relient on the Wikimedia Foundation as platform provider have no access to checkuser or oversight support locally.
Diverse motivations: People contribute time and knowledge to Wikimedia for a very wide range of motivations, often personal and not directly tied to the movement’s vision or the mission of any organization or community project supported by them in particular.
Q 2-2 What is your thinking and logic behind this recommendation?
If appropriate us a method such as a ‘Theory of Change’, or the ‘5 Whys’, etc.
The recommendation puts the social aspect of the social movement into the center. Having done so, it works backwards from a virtuous circle of a shared sense of belonging that enables thriving communities in safer and more secure spaces in changing local circumstances.
Q 3-1 What will change because of the Recommendation?
If implemented, it will close a critical gap between social movement part of the ecosystem and the platform. The infrastructure envisioned will be positioned to address not just social and technical barriers to more equitable participation but also spread those resources to other communities beyond Wikimedia into the broader open movement.
The mandatory part of training, focused on functionaries contribute to improving support for volunteers in these roles that tend to be at risk of burn-out and other challenges, helps to close skill gaps within the existing teams, and enables broader pools of talent to prepare themselves becoming qualified candidates for such roles. The working group sees mandatory trainings as one key component in addressing this problem alongside the proposed improved selection mechanism (see Recommendation: “Investing in equity-centered technologies”), the improved tools addressing abuse (see Recommendation: “Privacy and security for everyone”), the code of conduct renewing the shared foundations of behavior across communities (see Recommendation: “Joint set of rules”), and the self-care micro grants and term limits built into “Redefining power structures”. Many CHWG survey respondents recommended training, and training was also identified as a need in the 2019 Admin Confidence Survey. Training would expand eligibility for power roles, creating new opportunities for people from communities that have been underrepresented, as discussed in April 2019 Community Conversations.
The infrastructure would be open to host material, not just from the platform provider but also context-sensitively from affiliates, individuals, and third parties for their own aligned purposes. The certification makes these skills reliably transparent and re-usable in other civil society and potentially professional contexts. It would also create a pathway for creating and surfacing more of these materials in the future from more diverse sources.
Q 3-2 Who specifically will be influenced by this recommendation?
Already outlined in 3-1
Q 4-1 Could this Recommendation have a negative impact/change?
If implemented, it would encounter some resistance from established structures of power within the movement. It is likely that a number of functionaries struggle to identify with the material modeling their roles and prefer to step down from those roles instead of continuing.
Q 4-2 What could be done to mitigate this risk?
Content curation for certain modules complementary to the mandatory modules could be opened to crowdsourcing. There should also be a transition period of no less than six months after bringing the training and certification infrastructure and the non-public selection mechanism online; enabling individual volunteers in functionary roles to consider their futures without time pressure.
Q 5 How does this Recommendation relate to the current structural reality?
The recommendation changes the pathway towards user rights that imply wielding power over other participants by introducing supportive resources and contributes to a checks and balances system through shared norms.
Q 6-1 Does this Recommendation connect or depend on another of your Recommendations? If yes, how?
This recommendation is interdependent with “Investing in equity-centered technologies” as the later builds upon it due to the dependency on trained functionaries to address concerns. It is related to “Privacy and security for everyone” as the former envisions fundamental changes like IP masking that require providing additional skill training opportunities to communities to mitigate potentially undesirable side-effects.
Q 7 How is this Recommendation connected to other WGs?
Capacity building, Diversity, Roles and Responsibilities, Resource Allocation, Advocacy